How to Enforce a Child Custody Agreement in North Carolina

Understanding Child Custody Agreements in North Carolina

Child custody agreements in North Carolina are legal decisions outlining how parents will share responsibilities and time with their children following a separation or divorce. These agreements are crucial to providing stability and continuity for children, and when one parent fails to adhere to the terms, enforcement becomes necessary.

Legal Framework for Enforcement

In North Carolina, child custody agreements are enforced by the court system. Once a custody order is established, it holds the force of law. Should a parent violate this order, the other parent has legal recourse to seek enforcement through the courts.

Steps to Enforce a Child Custody Agreement

  1. Filing a Motion for Contempt: If a parent is not following the custody agreement, the first step is often to file a motion for contempt of court. This motion requests that the court recognize the violation of its order and take action to enforce it.
  2. Service of Motion: The parent who violated the custody agreement must be officially served with the motion so they are aware of the legal action against them.
  3. Court Hearing: A hearing will be scheduled where both parents can present their case. The accusing parent must prove that the other parent wilfully violated the custody agreement.
  4. Judgment and Enforcement: If the court finds that a parent has indeed violated the custody order, it may employ various enforcement measures such as makeup parenting time, fines, or even jail time in extreme cases.

An example of enforcement took place in 2015 when a North Carolina mother was held in contempt for consistently failing to adhere to the visitation schedule set forth by their custody agreement, resulting in makeup visitation rights granted to the father and legal fees being awarded.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Enforcing a child custody agreement can be complicated, and seeking legal assistance is often advisable. Family law attorneys can provide guidance throughout the process and represent parents in court if necessary.


Enforcing a child custody agreement is essential to maintaining the agreed-upon structure for a child’s life after their parents' separation. When these agreements are breached, North Carolina provides a legal process for enforcement to ensure children's best interests remain protected.