Daughter has been served a contempt of court order what should she do?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “My daughter has physical custody of her brother’s son because her brother was involved in illegal activity. This arrangement, however, was never finalized through the courts. Now because she did not properly file guardianship she was served with papers for contempt of court because she would not let her nephew see his dad. What does she need to do now?” 

What is a contempt of court order?

Contempt of court orders are the courts ways of enforcing their decisions. If, for example, the court has issued an order that the father should be allowed to see his son every other weekend but his sister has denied access to the child, the father has several options. First, he may decide to call the police, especially if he thinks the child is in danger. Next, he may request an attorney and pursue legal actions. Most often, however, the parent will choose to file a contempt of court charge asking the court to intervene in the situation. 

What will happen to me if I violate a child visitation court order?

If the court decides to hold you in contempt they have several options. First, they may require you to pay a fine, to return the child to the other party, or limit your right to visit the child in the future. If your brother had to hire a lawyer you may also be required to pay his attorney’s fees.

What do I need to do after I receive the contempt order?

If you have been served with a Complaint for Contempt you need to take several steps. First, review the Contempt Summons carefully and make sure you understand when you need to appear in court. This hearing is very serious, and it’s important that you attend.

Next, answer the Complaint. It is important not only to provide an answer and counter any information contained in the Complaint which is not true, but also provide information about why you failed to obey the court order. For example, if your brother has been charged with a crime against children and it is not safe for his child to be in his care, you need to make this clear to the court.

Be sure and send your answer to the Complaint by the due date. The answer should also be sent to your brother and his lawyer. 

Finally, attend the court hearing and be ready to share your story. It’s imperative that you communicate to the judge that the violation of the custodial arrangement was to protect your nephew. You may also want to ask your mother or any other persons involved with the case to attend the hearing. They can provide additional information about why you violated the court order and provide eye witness testimony about your brother.

What should you have done?

The lesson learned here is that when there is a custodial issue it’s important never to take matters into your own hands. Now, it’s clear you did this in the best interest of your nephew, but you should have gone to the court and made sure that all guardianship issues were finalized with the court.

Do I Need a Lawyer for the Contempt of Court Issue?
Due to the complexity of child custody issues it’s generally best to talk to an attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state and who will be able to assist you in preparing the necessary documents within the given time restrictions.

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Category: Malpractice