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How to enforce a child custody order in North Carolina

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Divorce

If a divorce involves children, it often concludes with a child custody order documenting parental responsibilities and other arrangements affecting the child’s welfare. This court-issued document holds both parents accountable for their part of the setup. Violating the custody order can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

Sometimes, a parent can commit a violation unintentionally due to miscommunication and other unavoidable circumstances. These incidents can be understandable, but the other parent can take legal action if the violations become repetitive or habitual. The process of enforcing a child custody order may follow these basic steps:

  • A parent can file a Motion to Show Cause asking a judge to review the order violation.
  • The judge will examine the motion and determine if probable cause exists to enter an Order to Show Cause for the violating parent to appear in court to explain themselves.
  • If found in contempt after holding a hearing, the judge will hold the violating parent in contempt for their offense.
  • The violating parent will receive applicable penalties proportionate to the offense they committed.

Civil contempt is for ongoing violations of an order to make someone comply with an order. A common example is not paying monthly child support. Criminal contempt is for one-off violations that are not ongoing and is meant to punish.

Depending on the situation, there can be more or fewer procedures when enforcing a child custody order. Some scenarios can be more complex, potentially requiring evaluations and other requirements to determine what should happen next.

Determining what to do about child custody issues

Parents can face disputes involving child custody long after finalizing the divorce. These disagreements can stem from unresolved issues, leading to high-stress situations that can harm the child. If a party commits violations against the custody order, it might be time to take legal action to enforce the document or adjust the arrangement.

Before choosing between options, it can be beneficial to seek legal counsel first. Experienced insight can be valuable when determining the most appropriate course of action that factors in the unique needs of the child and the entire family.