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My Ex is Violating Our Child Custody Order, What Happens Next?

Posted by J. Benjamin Stevens | May 15, 2018 | 1 Comment

Child Custody Contempt
Photo Credit: Jerry Kiesewetter,

When two parents have separated or divorced in Spartanburg or Greenville, South Carolina, they will typically have a child custody order which dictates the terms of how they will share their parenting responsibilities and the child's time between them. We get calls every week from potential clients who have questions about what they need to do if the other parent is not following the court order.

Violations of a Child Custody Court Order in Spartanburg or Greenville, SC:

The best way to determine if there has been a violation of a child custody order is to talk with an experienced family court attorney in your area. Some examples we've seen over the years are as follows:

  • The court order requires sight and sound supervision during all periods of visitation, but the other parent is sneaking visits with the child when supervisors are not around.
  • The court order sets the visitation periods from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and the other parent does not return the child on Sunday evening, but rather keeps the child and tells you the child will not come back.
  • The court order requires the other parent to pay for their share of medical or educational bills, but even when you have provided all the documents necessary, they refuse to pay their portion of the bills by the deadlines specified in the court order.
  • The court order prohibits the child to have contact with a specific person, but the other parent regularly allows such contact to occur.
  • The court order prohibits talking to the child about the litigation or telling the child negative things about you and yet the child comes home and tells you he or she was told about these things on a regular basis by the other parent.
  • The court order prohibits the child from being exposed to dangerous or immoral situations, but you find out the other parent has a paramour living in their house with the child and the child comes home smelling like alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs.

These are some examples of what a family court judge may consider violations of a child custody order. An attorney will need to carefully review your child custody order and discuss the facts of your case to be able to tell you whether your case is worth taking to court. Sometimes what seems like a violation is better handled by a letter from your attorney to the other parent about the terms of the court order to clarify any misunderstandings.

What Happens Next if We Go to Family Court?

If your attorney determines that your ex has violated the court order, he may advise you to file a Rule to Show Cause or a contempt action against the other parent. These are very serious cases because if the other parent is found to be "in willful contempt" of the child custody order, a judge has several options for punishment. The other parent may be sentenced to up to one year in jail, or have to pay up to $1500 in fines, or be sentenced to up to 300 hours of community service, or any combination of those three. They may also be ordered to pay some or all of your attorney's fees after the case is over. Every case is different and every judge has a different way of handling these contempt hearings. If your ex has a "whatever" attitude towards following court orders, the penalty for not doing so may be greater than if your ex truly misunderstood or misinterpreted part of the court order and his contempt was not considered "willful" by the judge. 

Speak with an Experienced Attorney Before Filing a Contempt Action in South Carolina:

The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule your initial consultation. 

About the Author

J. Benjamin Stevens

Senior Partner


foser Reply

Posted Jun 11, 2018 at 03:12:14

Nice post.Thank you for providing this.

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