How to Handle Violations of a Court Order

Here is a common scene we see. Mother was granted primary custody in a court order. Father was supposed to have the children over the weekend. Monday comes and the children aren’t returned to mother. What to do? Well the answer…depends. From this scenario we often see that custody agreements are written too broadly and are vague. The more ambiguity in an order the easier it is to have a dispute. For example, in this situation what are mother’s exact times? Does she get the kids from Monday to Friday? What are the times? Where do exchanges take place? Similarly, when is father’s weekend? When did the alternating weekend begin? Is the weekend from Friday to Sunday or Saturday to Monday? What are the exchange times? Where is the exchange locations. The reason these questions are raised is because this is exactly what the police will do when you call them to try and have them enforce the agreement. So what should a person do? Here are 4 tips:

  1. Make sure your order is adequately precise. You cannot account for every circumstance or situation but you can tie up many loose ends.
  2. Keep accurate records of the history of time. If there is a pattern that defines the weekend then keep that for the police, or, at least, the judge.
  3. Call the police. Even though the police may not be able to “fix” your problem immediately you are developing evidence. The kind of evidence the judge will want to see.
  4. File a motion for contempt asap! You want to ask the court for immediate action. Contempt charges can carry penalties with them such as sanctions or imprisonment. Make sure that the other parent has skin in the game so if they are playing games they understand that there could be serious consequences.

If you find yourself in a situation where the other side isn’t following the court order then contact the custody experts at Justice Legal Group at 505-880-8737 or email us at