What can I do if the other parent doesn't follow the agreement or order about parenting time or contact?
The Family Law Act gives the court tools to deal with situations where one parent is failing to follow through on their agreement, or order, about time with a child. This helps to make sure that parents receive – and follow through on – the parenting time they are given.
Denial of parenting time or contact
If the other parent won’t let you have the parenting time or contact that is set out in your agreement or order, then the court can take action.
There are some times when denial of parenting time or contact is not wrongful. For example, a parent could deny parenting time or contact if there is a reasonable risk that the child will experience harm from family violence or because the other parent is impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time of the parenting time or contact.
The judge is able to make a number of orders to help where parenting time or contact has been denied. For example, the judge could:
- Specify a period of time when you can make up the time with the child
- Require you and the other parent to attend family dispute resolution or counselling to help resolve the underlying issues
- Require the other parent to pay you for any expenses you incurred as a result of the denial of time with the child,or
- Require the other parent to pay money to you or to pay a fine
Most of the time, remedies like imprisonment of the parent who denies parenting time or contact or ordering police to take the child to the parent for parenting time or contact are not available because such extraordinary remedies are almost never in the child’s best interest.
Note: A parent cannot deny the other parent their parenting time or contact with the child if he or she fails to pay or falls behind on child support payments. There are other ways to enforce payment of child support.
Failure to exercise parenting time or contact
The court can also take action if one parent does not follow through on the parenting time or contact they are given.
It is very hard on children when their parent does not show up for their parenting time or contact. And it is hard for a parent to plan for their child’s care if they cannot rely on the other parent to show up for their parenting time or contact on schedule.
The judge is able to make a number of orders to help where one parent repeatedly does not show up for their parenting time or contact. For example, the judge could:
- Order the other parent who does not show up to reimburse the parent for their expenses related to the missed parenting time, such as travel, child care or lost wages
- Require either or both parents, or the child, to attend counselling or a program to help resolve the underlying issues, or
- Require the parents to attend family dispute resolution
We recommend that you get legal advice before you apply to the court for an order to enforce parenting time or contact arrangements.