Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
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Grandparents can face penalties for violating custody plans

When parents are unmarried or no longer raising a child together, it can become necessary to establish a custody plan. Child custody and visitation plans are put into place to protect the well-being of the kids involved and as well as the rights of a child's parents or guardians. 

Unfortunately, custody disputes can and often do arise. In some cases, these disputes are minor and can be resolved fairly easily with some discussion and simply referring back to the court-approved parenting plan. In other cases, however, more aggressive means of enforcing a child custody plan are needed.

For example, recently, a police officer was called to a church in order to enforce a custody order. Reports indicate that a 13-year-old girl was inside the church with the reverend and his wife, the girl's grandparents. Evidently, the grandparents had failed to return the girl to her father at an agreed-upon time and he contacted the police.

Many people have criticized the police efforts that resulted in the custody order being completed inside the church. However, the father had previously tried to get his daughter back at the grandparents' home but was unable to and the church was considered public property so the officer's actions were not unlawful.

Further, the police officer involved also tried several times to have other churchgoers go into the church and tell the girl and the grandparents to come out but was told that she should just wait outside. Eventually, the officer entered the church to retrieve the girl.

This is a strong example of how messy and unfortunate situations can get when parents, grandparents or any other party attempts to violate a custody or visitation order. Even if someone thinks that keeping a child longer beyond the time allotted is no big deal or may be better for the child, the fact is that custody orders must be complied with or there can be penalties.

It is not a good idea for people who disagree with a custody or visitation order, including grandparents, to violate an existing order. If you feel that it should be changed in some way, you can explore the options for seeking a legal, enforceable modification. Failure to do this could ultimately lead to much more serious consequences.

Source: USA Today, "Cop interrupts church service for custody call," Hana Frenette, Sept. 9, 2015

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Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
4799 Sugarloaf Pkwy
Building J
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

Phone: 770-676-1191
Fax: 770-963-2828
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