Legal Information

Violation of court order (not RO). Info on custody violation included*

Violation of court order (not RO). Info on custody violation included*

In general, when someone violates a court order, the other party generally has the option of returning to court to file for contempt. When a person files for contempt, s/he is generally asking a court to acknowledge that the other person violated the court order and asking that the court take steps to try to force him/her to follow the order and/or punish him/her for the violation.

A person has the option of filing for contempt on his/her own, or with the help of a lawyer. The clerk of court (that's the courthouse official in charge of records) should be able to provide the forms needed to file for contempt if someone chooses to do so on his/her own. Usually, to file for contempt, a person would go to the courthouse that issued the original order but there may be exceptions to this.

If you can't afford a lawyer, you may be able to get help from a legal aid organization, who provides free or low-cost legal help in some cases. If they can't help you, they might be able to refer you to someone who can take your case on a sliding scale fee or for free - be sure to specifically ask for a referral if you need one. You'll find contact information for legal resources for your state here, including both free legal services and the bar association's lawyer referral service for private lawyers: LINK Sometimes if a person has to file in court based on the fault of one party, a judge may order the party at fault to pay the lawyer fees of the other person - I don't know if this is done in your state and county or for this type of case but perhaps it may be something to ask a lawyer about. If you are thinking of hiring a private attorney, you may want to ask your lawyer about it in your first meeting with him/her to see if it may be an option in your state.

Generally, the penalties for violating a custody/visitation order could vary from state to state and I can't say how your state in particular handles this but they can often range from possible fines, to having to make up the lost visitation time, to in extreme circumstances (usually for continual or very serious violations) even losing custody or being held in contempt of court (which could involve fines or jail time). Sometimes, a person can use the violation as a reason to file to modify the order in some way. You may want to talk to a lawyer in your state who specializes in custody to find out what may happen in your situation.

[NOTE: ONLY INCLUDE THIS IF THE PERSON SAYS THE ORDER IS A CUSTODY/VISITATION VIOLATION: Generally, the penalties for violating a custody/visitation order could vary from state to state and I can't say how your state in particular handles this but they can often range from possible fines, to having to make up the lost visitation time, to in extreme circumstances (usually for continual or very serious violations) even losing custody. Sometimes, a person can use the violation as a reason to file to modify the order in some way. You may want to talk to a lawyer in your state who specializes in custody to find out what may happen in your situation. ADD THIS ONLY IF THE PERSON SAYS THE OTHER PARENT VIOLATED THE ORDER BY TAKING THE CHILD OUT OF STATE AND KEEPING HIM/HER THERE: In many states, if a parent violates a custody order by taking the child out of state and keeping the child there, a parent may have to do more than file for contempt in the state that issued the custody order. In many states, the police will not enforce a bench warrant issued by another state's judge. Often, the parent trying to enforce the custody order may have to go to the state where the other parent is holding the child to file for an emergency pick-up order in that state's court, which could then be enforced by police. Sometimes the parent may be able to get a lawyer in the state where the child is being held to file it on his/her behalf without going to that state. You may want to talk to a lawyer in the state where the child is being held. Also, if you are a domestic violence victim, you may be able to get help from the Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women, which specializes in interstate custody matters for abused women. Their number is 1-800-556-4053.