You went through the whole process of asking the judge enter a custody order that provided a visitation schedule for the other parent. However, that other parent has gone months opting out of visitation with your child. Now that parent is demanding that visitation take place but you have concerns with allowing it to occur. However, the other parent is threatening to hold you in contempt if you deny visitation.
A child custody order signed by a judge and filed with the clerk of court is enforceable by the contempt powers of the court. This means that if either parent is not following the order, the other parent can file to hold that parent in contempt. This is also known as filing a motion to show cause. The motion asks the court to enter an order that the violating parent come to court and show cause why he or she should not be held in contempt of court. If the judge signs the order to show cause based solely on the motion to show cause, the burden is on the violating parent to show cause why he or she should not be held in contempt of court.
A defense to a show cause is whether the violation was willful. In this scenario it is likely that if the primary parent refuses to give the visitation permitted in the order to the visiting parent, the visiting parent will file for contempt. The primary parent must then prove to the court that the lack of visitation was not willful. For example, if the children are in counseling because of the absence of the other parent, the primary parent may want to argue in defense that allowing the visitation would not be in the children’s best interest and that is the reason for refusing the visitation.
These cases are very fact specific though and even with such a good reason, the primary parent may be held in contempt of court for refusing visitation permitted in the order. It is best to consult with an attorney in these situations to try and avoid the harsh repercussions of being held in contempt of a court order.
If you would like to schedule a consultation to speak with one of our attorneys about your case, please call us at 919-576-7550.