How to File Contempt Papers for a Custody Order in Pennsylvania

By Wayne Thomas

By its very nature, a divorce can be extremely contentious. For couples with minor children, interpersonal conflicts often simmer over matters related to custody. While the court will attempt to craft an arrangement that will best suit the needs of the child, one parent may refuse to follow the order. In that case, the other parent can pursue a contempt action to impose penalties and encourage compliance.

By its very nature, a divorce can be extremely contentious. For couples with minor children, interpersonal conflicts often simmer over matters related to custody. While the court will attempt to craft an arrangement that will best suit the needs of the child, one parent may refuse to follow the order. In that case, the other parent can pursue a contempt action to impose penalties and encourage compliance.

Custody Overview

In Pennsylvania, the court will address physical and legal custody of any minor children, as well as visitation, and issue a custody order following a divorce. If the parties contest whether responsibilities should be shared or granted to one parent, the court will require each parent to submit a shared parenting plan. The plan indicates how each parent feels matters related to the day-to-day care of the child and major life decisions should be handled. The court will take these plans into consideration when making a ruling on custody.

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Factors

In making a decision on custody when the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, a Pennsylvania court will look at what is in the best interests of the child. A judge has several factors to consider, including whether either party has been abusive, whether one parent is better able to attend to the physical and emotional needs of the child, the proximity of the parties to one another and any other relevant factors the court deems important. The court is prohibited from making a determination on the basis of gender alone.

Contempt Process

If a parent willfully fails to adhere to a custody order, the other parent can file for contempt. The contempt process begins with the filing of a Petition for Contempt, Rule to Show Cause and a Proposed Order in the same court that awarded custody. There is usually a filing fee, but if you cannot afford the fee, you can request that the court waive it. These documents must then be properly served on the other parent by mail, sheriff's deputy or private process server.

Evidence and Penalties

The party filing for contempt must prove to the court that the other parent was able to comply with the order but willfully refused. This can be highly fact-based or turn on whose testimony a judge finds more credible. Witnesses that support your case can be valuable along with any other evidence that demonstrates that the other parent has been harassing you or refuses to adhere to the schedule. If found in contempt, the offending parent could face license suspension, a fine or even jail time.

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Massachusetts Divorce Laws & Custody

References

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Reasons for Contempt in Divorce Court

Contempt occurs when a person fails to comply with a court order. Settlement agreements signed by a judge, standardized court discovery forms, judicial orders and direct requests by a judge can all constitute court orders. Contempt is a serious charge that can subject you to fines and jail time. In divorce proceedings, contempt can be used against you. For example, a previous failure to comply with a custody order may be used as evidence that you are unwilling to protect your child's best interests.

Tennessee Child Custody Evaluation Guidelines

Child custody cases can be extremely contentious.Tennessee prioritizes the best interests of the child over all other considerations and has established guidelines for judges in evaluating child custody cases. Experts and guardians ad litem appointed to represent the best interests of children must also follow these guidelines along with a few additional standards.

Tenessee Custody Laws

Because child custody disputes often become contentious and emotionally charged, Tennessee has established specific laws governing the adjudication of these disputes. Judges treat each family as an individual unit and attempt to discern the best custody arrangement for each child. However, these arrangements are governed by state law and cannot be based on a judge's whims or prejudices.

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