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How Do You Enforce a Child Custody Order in North Carolina?

In an ideal world, once a family law dispute has been settled, both parties would honor their court-ordered obligations. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If your ex-spouse violated a child custody order, you might be wondering what you can do about it. If he/she has committed a minor violation, you may choose to let it go; however, in the event your ex-spouse fails to adhere to the court order’s terms or completely disregards them altogether, you will need to enforce this court order.

Steps to Take to Enforce a Court Order

Unfortunately, even after an order has been entered and the parties’ rights and responsibilities have been established, the failure of one party to fulfill their court-ordered obligations can result in more litigation. The specific mechanism for the enforcement of a court order depends on the type of obligation being enforced. A trial court can enforce its orders through a contempt proceeding, in which the court will restore your rights after your ex-spouse failed to satisfy the terms of the court order or move along with proceedings. If they do not comply with the court order, they risk jail time and other penalties for contempt.

To enforce a court order, here are the steps you can take:

  • Consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure your rights are protected
  • File a Motion for Contempt or a Motion for Order to Show Cause to request the judge hold the other parent in contempt for violating an existing court order
  • If the judge finds your co-parent in contempt, he/she will assign an appropriate punishment, depending on the circumstances of your case. This may include a verbal reprimand or even jail time.

Reasons for Enforcing a Child Custody Order

The basic reason why you would want to enforce a child custody order is because the other parent refuses to follow it. However, there are other reasons why you might need to enforce this order including but not limited to:

  • Concern over whether your co-parent may kidnap your child
  • Co-parent takes your child and leaves the country
  • Fear that your child may be being abused and/or neglected

What Are the Consequences of Violating a Court Order?

If your co-parent refuses to adhere to an existing child custody order, this could have a serious effect on your daily life, not to mention your child’s. This is especially true in cases where a parent forbids their child from seeing his/her other parent. If a child custody agreement is not obeyed, an attorney can help you hold your co-parent’s actions accountable in court.

To be able to punish your co-parent for violating a court order, a judge must first determine that he/she is in contempt of court. This means that the court order was violated by an individual who was fully aware of the conditions of the order and violated them anyways. The consequences of being held in contempt of court include but are not limited to the following:

  • Fines
  • Modification to the child custody agreement
  • Compensatory visitation
  • Jail time
  • Payment of your attorney fees by the other party

If you need to enforce a child custody order and do not know where to start, feel free to contact our office online or call us at (704) 343-8811 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your options.

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