Should I file for Contempt?

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  • #3393

    UnitedWoman
    Participant

    I am currently in a battle with the disabled father (unwed) of my 5 year old son. We have a custody order in place and without getting too specific he’s violated many of the provisions. However, I’m not sure it’s enough to win the battle. In papers, he’s required to and has not:

    1) supply finger scan at local day care.

    2) taken parenting class required by court during our precious court date 4-5 months ago. (Had 60 days)

    3) return all clothing/medication for son.

    4) does not communicate with me for the most part.

    5) did not bring son during Mother’s Day on time after said he wasn’t bringing him at all. (Called police and he finally did, also had police report.

    6) doesn’t foster positive relationship with me. Calls me names through texts/phone calls.

    Side notes:

    1) Unemployed father on disability (leg problems but can drive, walk, etc)

    2) Primarily lives with me, but we have a schedule.

    3) child is often sick, doesn’t care for him properly.

    4) although not in court order, he does not come to any surgeries/appts for son. I have to skip work to take care of him.

    5) Was/is a pill addict

    6) wants to drug test him but my lawyer is unresponsive and doesn’t move with the urgency I need.

    7) desire to keep him home before he starts school in the upcoming month so he can have consistency but the father is a jerk and will fight me on everything.

    I know it’s a lot but I desperately need help/advice.

  • #3397

    Lex
    Keymaster

    but my lawyer is unresponsive

    You have some difficult issues. Many times, as here, it is not so much a particular reason for bringing a rule for contempt, but a cumulative number of problems that individually would not be that big a deal.

    So, I guess the first major issue is to ask why your lawyer is unresponsive.

    It could be that he/she has seen how much time and money goes into a contempt rule. It could also be that the particular judge here does not like contempt rules and tends to not grant the relief needed. Family judges have a large degree of discretion in these matters and tend to have set ideas as to what constitutes contempt of existing orders.

    So, it boils down to trying to out-guess your current lawyer who should have a handle on what works with your judge and what does not.

    If you feel that these are not reasons why you feel your lawyer is not responsive, then it might be time to find a new lawyer.

  • #3850

    3kidsmom
    Participant

    Instead of trying to guess ANYTHING, why not pay for a meeting with your attorney and say: I’m concerned that you’re not giving this the priority I feel that it needs. There must be a reason. I realize a lot of time and money goes into a contempt rule. On the other hand, I know it is possible that this particular judge does not like contempt rules and tends to not grant the relief needed. Could you tell me which it is? Is there anything I can do to get this ball rolling?

  • #4067

    barbarabice
    Participant

    I think it is a situation that seems frustrating and almost as if he purposefully disregards the rules. Reason number one, because it gets to you, It causes you to be upset. Sometimes in child custody just as with a marriage you take the good with the bad, pick and choose your battles. You have to ask yourself “Is this dangerous to my child?” If the answer is no , let it go! Your child will be an adult one day and absolutely the only thing that matters is “Mom and Dad loved me. ”

  • #4068

    barbarabice
    Participant

    My daughter is having to file a contempt charge on the Father of her children. They have signed custody papers and he decided he would not send the children back home. It has been over two weeks, we have called the police and they “Can’t” do anything, WHY? Is a civil judges orders not important? We have to gather all this paper work to go to court for a judge to say “Give the kids back.” These things take time and in the meantime…It all seems so pointless whenever there is paperwork in place and should be acted upon.

  • #4069

    3kidsmom
    Participant

    Just like the executive (presidential) branch is separated from Justice and legislative branches for a reason, the courts are separate from the police for a reason. To ask a patrolman who may have very little education to read and interpret and then enforce a court order is a very bad idea indeed. First of all, how do you know your ex wouldn’t pull a court order from a year ago and say its the most current order? Or show up with LA code on his computer and say the judge wouldn’t have gone against the law, therefore the officer needs to x, y, or z?

    You told ‘UnitedWoman’ that the only thing that mattered is that the child knew Mom and Dad loved them, unless it was dangerous to the child. In my interpretation, it is dangerous to the child if the child is often sick because the parent is not taking good care of them, or if the parent hasn’t even made arrangements to be able to pick them up at day care. As a child gets older, some children will say “but dad/mom didn’t love me, if they couldn’t be bothered with something as important as daycare papers” (and believe me, there will be nine million other things with a parent like this). Other kids will buy into the poison that dad is spouting out about mom and insist that MOM doesn’t love them. As the parent of children who were brainwashed — and there is no other word for it — for years, with a very bad outcome indeed — there’s a lot we SHOULDN’T be ‘letting go’.

    Which brings us right back to your question, about the police enforcing civil orders. I hope I was able to explain why the police can’t really do it. (And more importantly, probably shouldn’t be doing it). I coach people in custody situations and it is very common indeed for one particular type of parent to try to get what they want by manipulating the police when the judge didn’t give them what they want. It takes a load of courage for a parent to step up to the armed officers at the door demanding they turn a child over for visitation when it’s an old order that the other parent has somehow convinced them to enforce. No parent should find themself having to do this, in the absence of an brand, shiny new direct order from the judge. It is also not fair to officers who are already overstressed to have to listen to the tales of woe from some of these manipulative parents, become convinced the child is kidnapped or in mortal danger, and find out later that the child is right where the judge wanted them to be and they’ve been led up a deceptive path.

    So as inconvenient as it is, these things have to be handled through the courts, until we change the system. When my daughter was in Alaska (a state that is very backward in some ways but very progressive in others), the courts there have police stationed in the courts for the specific purpose of enforcing orders. The judge makes an order (in my daughter’s case, for the father to turn her infant over to her), the person is given a few hours to comply voluntarily, and if they do not, the storm troopers pay a home visit. They travel in twos, unless the judge and the officers confer and think there will be trouble. In cases like that, more are deployed. Every single day there is a duty judge who can hear an enforcement plea and turn loose the dogs (so to speak). It’s intimidating as hell but it’s also very effective. The head officer at the courthouse interfaces with the judge and his/her clerk to ensure that children get to see both parents, as ordered. It’s something we need to consider in the lower 48 imho.

    (Having said that, the other side of this argument is that if handled improperly it could be very intimidating to kids, so there are two sides to the argument). When something like 50/50 is the norm (in the absence of abuse or neglect), these kinds of actions become less necessary.

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