When Should I file Contempt of Court in Family Law?

Child custody issues can get ugly, and even if you have taken all the right steps and have a legal custody agreement with the court, issues can always arise.

If your ex is somehow violating your custody agreement, you can file contempt of court. Filing contempt of court means that your ex is disobeying part of your agreement, and you want the court to force him or her to follow the agreement.

When should I file contempt of court?
You can file contempt of court when your ex violates your agreement, whether on accident or on purpose. However, you may want to give your ex the benefit of the doubt on the first occurrence. For example, if your ex hasn’t yet paid you child support, you may want to ask him or her for it. If they then don’t give it to you, you can file contempt of court.

Child support isn’t the only reason to file contempt of court. You can file contempt of court if your ex is refusing to follow your visitation schedule. For example, if your ex doesn’t return your child to you at the end of visitation, or if your ex is refusing to allow you to see your child, you can file contempt of court.

How often can I file contempt of court?

Some people are quick to file at the first violation of the custody agreement, but this isn’t always the best method. Constantly filing contempt of court motions may make the situation worse between you and your ex, and it may even be expensive for you. Plus, just because your ex violated the agreement one time doesn’t mean that the court will find him or her in contempt. This means the court may let your ex go with a warning, and now you will have just created stress between the two of you without getting the resolution you wanted.


What happens if the court finds my ex in contempt?

In the instance where the judge may find your ex in contempt, there are a variety of outcomes that may occur. These outcomes are all based on the reason for contempt as well as your ex’s number of violations. First, the judge may require your ex to complete a parenting class. Second, they may require your ex to complete a therapy session.

Third, the judge may require your ex to reward you with an incentive. For example, if you are filing contempt of court because your ex didn’t allow you to see your child on your specified days, then the judge may require your ex to give you additional time with your child to make up for it. If you are filing contempt of court due to a lack of child support payments, the judge may require your ex to pay you back child support.

Finally, it’s always possible that the judge will sentence your ex to jail time. This is usually a last resort or held for those parents who have numerous violations.

No matter what, it’s important to understand that every situation and every judge is different, and there is no set resolution. Keep this in mind before you decide to file a motion.

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