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Main Forums => General Issues => Topic started by: angel on Jan 01, 2007, 04:58:50 AM

Title: Contempt of court...
Post by: angel on Jan 01, 2007, 04:58:50 AM
If a person were to receive a contempt of court citation for refusing parenting time to the other parent, what would happen?  

Would the custodial parent be advised by the judge to start allowing visitation?

Or would custody be taken away from the custodial parent?

If you have what you feel is "just cause" to deny the parenting time, are you given an opportunity to explain it?

Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: Mamacass on Jan 01, 2007, 10:06:58 AM
It depends on the situation.  My DH was dropping of my Ss one day and struggled with the decision as to leave SS there or not. He also had our son in the car and didn't want to start anything with BM in front of both children.  However, when he arrived, there were several trashy looking men at BM's house and everyone was huddled around a table.  Yeah, that might not mean much, but because of BM's previous drug use and hanging out/ living with drug addicts (by her own admission), a situation like this looked suspicious.  Also, a man who BM always smoked pot with in the past was there (she still hangs out with him on a regular basis.)  Anyways, DH must have looked a little upset/disgusted by the situation, because BM came running out of the house repeating "It's not what it looks like".  Which only made DH more suspicious, b/c why would you feel the need to defend yourself when no one accused you of anything in the first place?  

Anyways, Dh ended up leaving SS there, b/c he didn't think he had the right to do anything different.  He had a stomach ache all night, and couldn't sleep b/c he was so worried about SS.  When he talked it over with our attorney later, she told him that if he has reason to believe that he is leaving SS in a potentially dangerous situation (ie a house full of drugged out adults) then he shouldn't leave SS there.  She said it is a possibility that he could face contempt charges, but that it is up to DH to weigh the consequences.  

The flip side of that is a friend of mine gets denied his time wth his daughter for reasons such as BM says that DD doesn't want to go, and she feels if she forces her that it will cause an emotional breakdown (there is a bunch of PAS going on there).  My friend started taking BM to court whenever he was denied time and the last time the judge warned BM that if she continues to deny time and be difficult then he will give custody to the father.  

You are pretty vague about why you are feeling the need to deny parenting time.  IMHO if you feel the other parent is putting your child in a harmful situation then I would agree with the denial of time, but then I would also suggest filing to request supervised visits or whatever you feel is necessary for the safety of the child.  But I would advise to have a pretty good reason b/c if you're going in front of a judge, you want to be able to justify why you did what you did.  
Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: angel on Jan 01, 2007, 02:58:29 PM
The reason is that BM has been cancelling at least 2 of her 3 weekend visitations with her child for the past 9 months.  (She's been going as high as 6 weeks in between visits). Her excuses have ranged from "I have a headache" to "It's raining too hard", and everything in between.  

During those 9 months, BM was supposed to meet halfway to pick up her child.  Her excuses made it quite apparent that she really didn't want to get her child. Even the few times she's gotten him, she doesn't keep him with her for the 2 days she's entitled--she pawns him off on anyone who'll take him.

Almost 3 months ago, it came to a judge's attention that she was not excersising her parental time, and told her that "You have NO excuse to not get your child".  (However, shouldn't it be clear that you can't MAKE someone want to be a parent?)

Now it's come to the time of year (Jan, Feb, and March) in which the residential father is supposed to drive the whole way.  BM is of course expecting now that she has to do none of the work, take none of the time, and expend no money for gas, that this will just be done for her with no questions asked.  

She has exhibited a prolonged pattern of not wanting to be bothered with her child for at least nine months, so the residential father's plan is to continue the schedule that the BM been keeping which is to take child to her once per month.

To change the schedule now seems unfair to the child who's grown accustomed to only going that often, to the residential father who would have to shoulder the burden of a 4 hour trip twice per weekend, and the cost of the gas, which "should" be being covered by the BM through CS payments.  However, as soon as she found out she was to pay CS, she is no longer employed, so father hasn't received a penny, even though the judge cut the amount she was supposed to pay by almost a third so as to not cause any financial hardship.  Father absorbs ALL financial costs of child--including all medical payments, and has done so for child's entire life, which he doesn't mind, it's just the principle that both parents are supposed to be in some way responsible for child, and BM was certainly making above decent wages.

The judge had "instructed" her to start using her parental time--she's chosen to ignore that instruction, and has, in fact, been getting him even less often.

The BM does however, likes to "stick it to" residential father any and all ways she can, so father is sure that she'll try to cause problems with his plan.  She doesn't want the child there, but she likes knowing she can take 8 hours out of father's weekend 3 weekends per month, and money out of his pocket for the gas.  

Last year, when father took child to her place, she always found another place for him to be, and it's rare that she spends more than a few hours with him.  Father wouldn't even mind these trips so much if BM  were really using the time to be with child, but she doesn't, so father also feels he should have right of first refusal.

Father knows that having the driving schedule modified in court is the best way to go, but doesn't really have the money to go to court to  right now--there have been some unforeseen financial setbacks.

So the question is, with a judge already knowing of BM's lack of interest in child, her ignoring his order, and father having documentation of all BM's cancellations for that past 9 months, would BM's pattern of how often she's willing to have child, and father's stance and logic on this be enough to allow him to continue with the current once per month schedule, and would a judge be understanding of this?  

Taking a child to be with a BM who doesn't really want child there (as shown by her lack of interest and excuses) doesn't really sound like the best thing for child, and father could use the time with child instead of BM pawning child off on anyone who'll take him.  

I was also wondering if father would be able to have BM cited for contempt for failing to follow the court ordered visitation schedule?
Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: Mamacass on Jan 01, 2007, 05:35:53 PM
So I definitely get where you're coming from and if it were up to me, I'd say don't waste the time or the gas to drive the child to BM's.  However, I don't think that a judge would agree.  And if BM wants to be difficult, then she probably could get a contempt charge on your husband for that.  

Here's what I would suggets.  If the child is going to be sent all over, call to talk to him every night.  That way you know where he is at.  Then keep a calendar of where he is staying when he is supposed to be with BM.  (We did this when we had SS 3 weekends and BM had him 1 each month.  funny how even on her 1 weekend she would send him to her parent's or sister's house.  She only had him m-th each week, and even sometimes during that time she would ship him off to anyone that would have him).  

Also, keep track when BM is required to meet halfway of how often she actually comes to pick up the child.  Document her excuse each time.  
Then I would suggest filing to modify the visitation schedule.  You can then show the judge your calendar which is proof of the mom not using the time she has presently.  Judges aren't dumb, and they'll draw the same conclusion that you have.  
Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: angel on Jan 02, 2007, 02:20:14 AM
 I guess I just don't understand why the father can't have the BM cited for contempt for failing to follow HER court ordered visitation, but BM could have FATHER cited for basically doing the same thing...

Anyway, thank you for your time and response, it's much appreciated :-)
Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: notnew on Jan 02, 2007, 08:56:10 AM
You don't need an attorney to file the modification.

Draw it up using any copies of another filing in the case as a basis for the format.

Spell out the details as the CP desires and file. You could call it Motion to Modify Vistiation Schedule. There is usually a small filing fee and when it is returned to you, it has to be properly served on the other party. Usually the local police dept will do this for a small fee. Call your court of jurisdiction and ask how many copies have to be filed, etc., also you have to make sure you have included all of the proper additional forms that need to be filed with it as well.

Parenting time (visitation) is at the NCP's desire to exercise. It doesn't look good if the NCP doesn't take what time they can, but they don't have to.

Sounds to me like you want the modification to say that NCP has to provide all the transportation and leave the existing visitation schedule in place. I don't know anything about asking to terminate visitation due to lack of NCP involvement for an extended period of time.

The travel portion of this poses a huge unfair burden on the CP. Also, right of first refusal is not realistic unless he is willing to do the 8 hour round trip more then once per weekend. Therefore, requesting NCP bear the transportation burden 100% is a more realistic option and I think in light of your postings that NCP isn't shouldering any of the financial burdens of the child otherwise, the court won't see this as an unreasonable request.

CP cannot simply change the court order on his own accord. That is contempt. His best option is to ask for the modification. He may also request a reduced visitation schedule based on NCP's pattern of failing to exercise the visitation allowed under the current order.

You could go to the Dear Socrateaser Forum and ask for his opinion. I am not a legal expert, just giving you my opinion.

Good luck.

Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: angel on Jan 02, 2007, 01:25:03 PM
"Parenting time (visitation) is at the NCP's desire to exercise. It doesn't look good if the NCP doesn't take what time they can, but they don't have to".

So what if BOTH parents felt the same way, and neither one was getting the child only when they wanted to? I would think the authorities would step in and take the child away from BOTH.  But as long as ONE parent is doing it at their own whim, they can not only get away with it, but can have the "responsible" parent cited! (Just venting here as to the unfairness of the whole system).

Father is not suggesting that BM's visitation be "terminated" (he WANTS BM to be in son's life, and is quite unhappy with her lack of desire to be involved). He is also NOT suggesting that BM have to shoulder all the burden of the transportation even though that would be fair in light of the fact she's responsible for NOTHING else. (Considering the problems in BM's house, supervised visitation probably would be a very good thing, but that's harder--and much more costly to get put in place from what I understand).

Father is only suggesting that since BM seems more comfortable and happy with once per month, and since son is kept waiting at least 2 out of every 3 weeks per month just to find out that BM is cancelling, that papers be modified to have schedule be changed to state it as once per month all 12 months (instead of 3 times per month for all 12 months as it is now). Father feels it would be emotionally easier for the child to KNOW he was going once per month, rather than having to be kept in turmoil so often and feeling "unwanted" the times she doesn't get him.

That way there shouldn't be any further cancellations on BM's part, or at least they'd be greatly reduced.  It's just causing too many problems for everyone involved to have it be "up in the air" every single time. (Until the past 2 weekends when father got tougher about it, BM was waiting LITERALLY until 5 mintues before time to leave to cancel, so father was never able to make any kind of weekend plans.  He finally told her that she'd HAVE to start giving a 24 hour notice of her intent, and if she didn't, he was going to consider it a cancellation).

To get back to the issue at hand--Father would continue to drive half the distance April through December, and drive son the whole way once per month Jan, Feb, and March, or would be ok with having it written up as half the distance once per month for all 12 months.

In light of her pattern, her lack of normal parental  responsiblity, and her failure to take the judge's "advice", father's proposal sounds MORE than fair to me...

Thank you much for your time and response!
Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: notnew on Jan 03, 2007, 06:26:38 AM
I was just telling you how the court would maybe see things.

I understand the frustration the two of you are feeling. However, the courts really don't care about the emotional aspect of these things.

That is why I presented a more cut and dry aspect.

The only thing he can do is file for a modification. You cannot change an order and expect to enforce it. AND if father does not abide by the court order, he can be held in contempt. It is not fair to the child to be emotionally tormented in this way, but it is what our wonderful system allows.

This whole system is so utterly out of control and I still don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen over and over again that the parent who chooses to be the most difficult and damaging to the child's emotional well being usually is allowed to get away with it all while the parent who is trying desperately to do the right thing is chastised and penalized every chance the court gets.

The judge's "Advice" was just that and nothing else. It means nothing because none of it was put into an order. BM knows this. She acts all contrite in front of the judge and then does whatever she wants outside of those doors. I know. I have the same type of thing to deal with. My ex is so brash that she laughs and makes snide comments right in the hallway outside of the court after playing the poor me card with crocodile tears and all in the court room. It works nearly every time.

I cannot give you a magic key to work around the system to get things right. Many of us on here can tell you how to work through this system for an outcome that gets you screwed over as little as possible.

Title: RE: Contempt of court...
Post by: angel on Jan 03, 2007, 03:18:36 PM
My "rant" wasn't directed at you in any way--this is just a safe place to get out the sheer frustration of the whole system.

I certainly know what you mean--Father's ex gf cried and sobbed the whole way through CS proceedings saying she can't "afford" to pay. (She pays $160 a month for Marlboro cigarettes, has money to get her hair and nails done all the time, has money to buy marijuhana, has money to go out for special concerts and trips out of town, but has no money to help take care of her child--of course the judge knows nothing about her little luxuries). She also only works 20 hours a week by her own choice.

The judge lowered her amount from $250 to $100 per month, and THEN told her if she started getting child when she was supposed to, he'd consider terminating it entirely. Of course she hasn't done that (hasn't paid CS either) so the whole thing is probably moot, but it's not out of the realm of possibilities that she'll straighten up right before next court date, then turn on the tears again.

 "This whole system is so utterly out of control and I still don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen over and over again that the parent who chooses to be the most difficult and damaging to the child's emotional well being usually is allowed to get away with it all while the parent who is trying desperately to do the right thing is chastised and penalized every chance the court gets".

I have never heard truer words spoken.