Mississippi Family Lawyer Discusses Child Custody Contempt Orders

When you enter into a child custody agreement as part of an uncontested divorce or a judge drafts a custody order during a contested divorce proceeding, that child custody agreement becomes legally binding. Not only can your former spouse report you to the court if you violate it, but the court may find you in contempt. There are two types of contempt: civil contempt and criminal contempt. Civil contempt requires you to pay money, such as past due child support. Criminal contempt places you in county jail as a punishment for violating a custody order.

Common reasons for criminal contempt orders in child custody cases include:

  • One parent repeatedly failing to appear or appearing late for custody exchanges
  • One parent extending the visitation without notice to or consent from the other parent
  • One parent leaving the jurisdiction with the child without notice to or consent from the other parent
  • Neglecting or abusing the child
  • Picking up the child from school when the day is assigned to the other parent

While biological parents do have rights, think of parenting as a privilege, not a right. A privilege is something that can be taken away if you do not follow certain rules. Your right to custody of your child can be taken away if you violate the custody order.

If the other parent is egregiously violating the custody order, you should first attempt to resolve things with that parent. Remind them of their obligations and agreements under the custody order and respectfully request that they fix the issue. If this does not work, consult with a child custody lawyer like Matthew S. Poole. Matthew S. Poole can advise you on your options and next steps. One potential next step is to file a motion for contempt.

A motion for contempt alleges that the other parent is in violation of the custody agreement. If the custody agreement is not already part of the record, attach a copy with your order. The motion will state which provisions in the agreement have been violated and how. You may also request a remedy. Remedies can be as light as warnings and as severe as jail time. If your former spouse has committed serious violations, you may be able to seek temporary legal and physical custody.

As an example, one Mississippi couple entered into a custody agreement that stated that the mother and father shared joint legal and physical custody of their daughter. The custody agreement also laid forth an education plan for the child, including which school she was to attend. One day, when it was the father’s day to pick up the child from school at the beginning of the school year, he was unable to find her. He spoke with the principal of the school, who told him that the mother had not registered the child for school that year. He immediately called the mother to find out where his daughter was, and the mother stated that she was getting on a plane to Africa, where she would be moving permanently to live in a Zionist colony and homeschool the daughter.

The father filed a motion for contempt, arguing that the mother violated his visitation rights granted by virtue of joint custody. In addition, the mother violated the education plan set forth in the agreement. The U.S. Department of State assisted the father by locating the mother in Africa and conducting a welfare check on the child. The Department of State determined that the child was in danger for her health and safety and was not receiving adequate food, water, and shelter. The mother and daughter finally return to Mississippi after almost two years. Upon attending the motions hearing, the mother was found in criminal contempt and ordered to serve seven days in county jail. The father was awarded sole legal and physical custody.

If you are frustrated with your former spouse for violating the child custody agreement, contact Mississippi Family Lawyer Matthew S. Poole now to schedule a free, no hassle case evaluation at (601) 573-7429.

Mississippi Family Lawyer explains child custody contempt orders in Mississippi.