What can you do if your ex isn’t following a custody order?

Griffin Law, PLLC
Feb 27, 2024

When your ex-spouse fails to comply with a custody order, it can create a challenging situation. Violations can take various forms, such as not returning the child on time, denying visitation rights or making important decisions about the child’s life without joint consultation (if joint legal custody is in place).

If you’re facing such a challenge, it’s crucial to understand your rights and the legal actions available to you.

The legal process

One of the key tools at your disposal is a motion for contempt. This formal request allows you to ask the court to enforce the existing custody order. The process involves:

  1. Documenting the breaches: Keep a detailed record of every instance where your ex breached the custody order. Be sure to note dates and times and thoroughly describe each violation.
  2. Filing the motion: Submit your formal request to the court using your documented evidence to support your claim.
  3. Attending the hearing: Both parties can present their cases at the scheduled hearing. Be ready to share your evidence in a clear and organized manner and explain how the violations have negatively impacted your child’s well-being.
  4. Waiting for the judge’s decision: The judge will review all the presented evidence before making a decision. If the court determines that your ex-spouse intentionally violated the order, they may need to face penalties.

In North Carolina, like many states, the penalties for contempt can vary greatly and depend on factors such as the severity and frequency of the infringements. For minor or first-time offenses, the judge may issue a warning or order the offending parent to attend a parenting class. For repeated or more severe infringements, penalties can include fines, changes to visitation (such as requiring supervised visitation) or even jail time.

Help in presenting your case to the court

It’s important for your ex-spouse, as a parent, to uphold the court order as it helps maintain stability in your child’s life. If they fail to follow the agreement, they can potentially harm their well-being. Navigating such an ordeal alone can be stressful, especially when starting the process of filing a motion for contempt. An attorney experienced in family law can help you through the legal system and protect your child’s well-being.

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