Enforcing a Custody Order

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Do you have a child custody order or a divorce order that addresses your children? Is the visitation or access to your child that you were awarded in that order being withheld by the other parent? If the answer to both of these questions is “Yes”, then you should consult with an attorney to discuss an enforcement action.

Enforcement Action

If your children’s other parent is not complying with orders allowing visitation or access to your children, or depriving you of other rights granted by the custody order, you should document every violation. It is important to establish a pattern, since no court is going to take you seriously if you file a motion after one missed visit.

If the other parent is non-compliant, contact an attorney, not law enforcement. Law enforcement will generally chose not to get involved unless there is an emergency or some element of danger. An attorney can make a demand directly to the other parent to comply with the order. If this is unsuccessful, the attorney will have a solid basis to pursue enforcement from the court.

An enforcement action is a legal proceeding in which your attorney files a petition in the court that rendered your custody order – generally called a Motion to Show Cause or a Contempt Motion. Essentially, this petition informs the court that the other parent has failed to comply with the custody order, and asks the court to use its’ contempt powers to make them follow the order. In North Carolina, a court’s has civil contempt powers, which means that if a person fails to comply with the original order, the court may order:

  • Monetary penalties. The court can enter significant fines on a non-compliant party.
  • The ability to impose jail time. Sometimes the threat of jail is enough to convince someone to comply.
  • Criminal contempt. If the civil contempt order is not complied with, North Carolina allows a judge to hold a party in criminal contempt, which is much more serious. This is reserved for more egregious non-compliance.

In addition, there are criminal charges available should the other parent hide the child or refuse to produce the child to the court. Essentially, this is kidnapping, to which law enforcement is very responsive.

If you are being deprived of your court ordered custody, we can help you. Don’t attempt to take the law into your own hands. New Direction Family Law has fought for parents for almost two decades and can advocate for your legal rights to your children. Our office serves Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call us today at (919) 719-3470 for a consultation, or reach us at our website.