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How can I resolve custody spats with my ex?

Custody cases can bring out the worst between two parents caught in an argument. Each parent usually feels his or her opinion is best about upbringing, and when people can’t agree and become adversarial, they may become unyielding about even the most mundane things. For instance, the court order may say a parent gets one phone call a week with his/her child, but the other parent doesn’t want to allow it. What options do you have in this or any other case?

Write a letter

Put your grievance and request in writing to the other party, so that you have a written record of your attempt to resolve the issue outside of court. This requirement is codified in Rule 5.11 of the Eighth Judicial District Court Rules (EDCR). Sometimes a letter carries more weight if an attorney writes it, so you may want to consider the expense of retaining an attorney to write the letter versus the potential cost of engaging in litigation should your letter fail to resolve the issue and you want to pursue the matter in court.

File a Motion in Court

If your letter fails to rectify the issue, you can file a motion for contempt in court for the other party’s failure to follow the court order. If your dispute is particularly hostile with the other party, you can even seek a behavioral order from the court to regulate the conduct between you both. The court will decide whether to punish the other side and whether to modify any obligations.

Do not return fire with fire

Try to avoid playing an “eye for an eye” with the other side. If he/she is violating court orders, do not take it as an opportunity to do likewise. The court is more likely to see your version of events if you have been civil and especially if you are seeking to modify the order or to impose a new order in your favor.