Violations of court-ordered child visitation agreements are serious matters. This is because child visitation orders are always drafted according to the child’s best interest. There are several remedies available to you depending on the specific situation. You may:
- Call the police, especially if the child cannot be contacted or if their safety is in danger
- Request an attorney to send a letter to your former spouse informing them that you are aware of the violation and are prepared to take legal action if the violations continue
- File for contempt of court- this may be necessary in the case of ongoing or serious violations of the visitation agreement.
Of these, probably the most common option is to file for contempt of court. This is because in most visitation situations, the parents are already unable to reach a mutual agreement. Thus, intervention by the court may be necessary.
What Is Contempt of Court and How Can It Help?
If there has been a previous court order issued regarding the visitation arrangements, the court may hold the violating party in contempt of court. This means that the violating party may have to:
- Pay a fine
- Possibly face jail time
At its own discretion, the court may also require the offending party to take certain actions, such as returning the child to the other party or refraining from visiting the child again. Also, in some instances the plaintiff may be entitled to damages and/or attorney’s fees.
While jail time is rarely imposed for violations of visitation agreements, the fine can often be an effective means of preventing the party from repeating the violations. Also, intervention by the court means that a third party is involved- many persons cease to commit violations if they know that your requests are backed by the authority of a court.
How Do I File a Motion for Contempt of Court?
If your situation involves repeated violations, be sure to make detailed records of the incidences including dates, names, time periods involved, and a description of the circumstances (i.e., visited child during an unauthorized time).
If there are any police reports involved, keep copies of them. You should submit these documents and records to the court when you request a motion for contempt of court.
Be sure that your documents clearly show that the other party committed a violation. It is important that you be specific when describing the events. Sometimes a successfully filed motion for contempt of court may lead to a modification of the visitation agreement.
If the other party seeks to appeal the contempt claim, they usually only have a few days to do so. Courts usually grant appeals on a case-by-case basis, which means that your arguments should be thoroughly prepared.
Do I Need a Lawyer for the Contempt of Court Issue?
When dealing with issues such as violations of visitation agreements and contempt of court, it would be wise to seek the assistance of a family law attorney. Again, it is the best interests of the child that are at stake, so it is important that your requests be well supported. A lawyer who is well versed in family law will be able to assist you in preparing the necessary documents within the given time restrictions.