Legal Information: Wisconsin


May 10, 2022

What happens if the custody order is violated?

After a custody order is in place, both parents have to obey the order or else they may face legal consequences. If, for example, the abuser does not return the children to you after s/he takes them for a visit, you may have to file a “petition to enforce physical placement” or an “order to show cause and affidavit for finding of contempt.” The judge can provide make-up time for the parent who lost out on his/her scheduled visitation, order the children to be returned, and order the losing party to pay the other party’s attorney fees. The judge can also hold the other parent in contempt of court for violating the court order, and the abuser could be fined, sent to jail, or anything else that the court finds appropriate.1

Withholding children from another parent in violation of a court order can also result in criminal charges.2

Note: If your custody order does not give specific placement times, you may want to ask the judge to change the order. The judge could add specific times that each parent has the child, which would make it easier for both parents to follow the order.

Certain situations might justify violating a court order — for example, to protect you or your children from immediate abuse or harm. However, before intentionally disobeying any court order, we recommend that you talk to an experienced family law attorney to think through your options and to understand the specific consequences you could face if you violate the order. Go to WI Finding a Lawyer to find legal help in your area.

1 Wis. Stat. § 767.471(5)(b)
2 Wis. Stat. § 767.471(8)

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