How the Los Angeles Police Department’s Failure to Enforce Custody Agreements Hurts Families         

Police won’t get involved without a court order, which can add an expense for parents 

According to longtime family law attorney Alphonse Provinziano, the Los Angeles Police Department regularly fails to enforce custody agreements, forcing parents involved in disputes to spend extra time and money getting a court order, a problem he says isn’t being addressed.

When the police won’t enforce a custody agreement, it’s not worth much,” said Provinziano. “That forces the parent who is not getting rightful custody to hire a lawyer, go back to court and get a judge to order the other parent to comply.”

Even though custody agreements are legally binding, the LAPD and police departments throughout California routinely refuse to get involved without a direct order from a judge, claiming that it would be a drain on resources.

Provinziano noted that in a recent case, a father in the Los Angeles area refused to bring his daughter to her mother even though it was clearly spelled out in the custody agreement. After the LAPD refused to help, the mother worked with an attorney from Provinziano & Associates, who filed for an emergency court order, discovered where the father was keeping the daughter and got the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department involved.

When a parent returns to court, they typically win, as the recalcitrant parent’s lawyer will advise them to honor the agreement to avoid the risk of a court penalty or having a judge reconsider the custody arrangements. As a result, police often don’t end up getting involved at all, Provinziano said, adding that is what happened in the recent case.

Provinziano said that the these policies mean that parents who wish to inflict emotional distress or who simply have more money to pay for attorneys can manipulate the system by refusing to return a child when they are supposed to.

“When police refuse to help resolve these disputes, they aren’t remaining neutral, they are choosing a side — and that side is often the parent who refuses to follow clearly spelled out custody arrangements with the intention to inflict emotional abuse,” he added. “Violating a court order is a crime and when the police choose not to enforce it, that hurts children and parents.”