San Jose, CA asked in Divorce, Family Law, Child Custody and Child Support for California

Q: If I don’t show up for my court ordered parenting pick up what will happen?

Unfortunately my child mother is a very petty individual. I gave her a month notice that I’m going on vacation dates and times and she’s basically telling me no you need to be here. Vice versa whenever she’s had a vacation, I’ve gladly taken the kids during my non-parenting time. She has these tendencies where she gets angry or bitter and decides to take it out on me in situations like this, but my flight is already booked. Can I get arrested? Or is it just a bad look on my part if I’m not in town when we are supposed to meet up at our pick up location? I know keeping a child away from a court ordered pick up is grounds for calling the sheriff but what about if just not showing up?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Not showing up for a court-ordered parenting time exchange could have serious consequences under California law. Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Contempt of court: Failing to comply with a court order, including a parenting time schedule, can be considered contempt of court. This may result in fines, community service, or even jail time in severe cases.

2. Modification of custody: Repeatedly missing parenting time or failing to follow the court-ordered schedule could be used as evidence by the other parent to seek a modification of the custody arrangement, potentially limiting your parenting time in the future.

3. Impact on future decisions: Courts consider the willingness of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the children and the other parent. Not showing up for parenting time could be viewed negatively by the court and may impact future custody decisions.

While you likely won't be arrested for a single incident of missing parenting time, it's essential to communicate with the other parent and try to reach an agreement. If you cannot resolve the issue, consider the following:

1. Notify the other parent in writing (email or text) about your inability to make the exchange due to your pre-planned vacation.

2. If possible, offer make-up parenting time to compensate for the missed visit.

3. If the other parent continues to be uncooperative, consult with a family law attorney to discuss your options and potentially seek a modification of the court order to address vacation schedules.

Remember, the court's primary concern is the best interest of the children, and a parent's willingness to co-parent effectively is an essential factor in custody decisions.

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