One question I and other family law attorneys get alot is whether a parent has to strictly follow a parenting plan. The problem most often arises when the other parent has done something to violate the terms of the parenting plan. The aggrieved parent usually wants to know if he or she may take unilateral action to correct the violation. Simply put, the answer is no.
Parenting plans are sometimes called "guides", but they are not advisory. The parenting plan will specifically describe the minimum parenting time a parent gets, and a parent can agree to allow the other parent more time. But the minimum time is mandatory. For example, if a parenting plan calls for a parent to exercise visitation every other weekend, it is mandatory. A parent cannot refuse this visitation any more than the other parent can keep the child through the next week in retaliation.
A parent victimized by a violation of a parenting plan, i.e. the other parent refusing visitation, has a few options. First, read the parenting plan. Generally, "compensatory time," which simply means time with the child designed to make up for time missed, is provided for in the plan. If that is the case, demand your compensatory time in writing. This may be a one-time issue, and the parenting plan itself may call for a resolution.
What you may not do is keep the child or withhold visitation yourself. Here, the old adage "two wrongs don't make a right" is appropriate. Should the other parent wrongfullly withhold visitation, you should first attempt to address the problem with the other parent. If that does not work, you should talk to an attorney. Several legal options exist, including modification, if appropriate. Here, we offer a level pay system to ease the financial burden that you sometimes must bear to ensure that you have the best possible relationship with your child or children.