When to File

When should you file a contempt-of-court petition?  Answer: When it’s appropriate!

The high-conflict ex will file for every alleged infraction, no matter how minor.  To the high-conflict ex, you’re in contempt if you violate what they think should be in your custody agreement/order, but isn’t actually there.  It has been our personal experience that if the high-conflict ex “doesn’t believe” that something in the order “was what the judge intended” – you can expect to have a contempt petition filed against you.

The bottom line is this – you don’t want to be a frivolous litigator.  There will be some things that you will occasionally have to simply “let go.”  You do this in favor of what’s important, such as custodial interference.  That’s not to say that an ongoing and systematic disregard of something less important doesn’t warrant your taking action.  Far from it.  However, you do have to “pick and choose” your moments because the more appearances you make in front of a judge which are initiated by you, the more irritated they’re likely to get towards you.

So, the following is a short list of answers to the big question regarding when to file:

  • The matter in question is important.  Custodial interference, childcare, healthcare… issues such as those are “high value” issues.
  • There is a clearly established pattern of behavior on “lesser value” issues that has been ongoing and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
  • You have clear and convincing evidence that the disobedience is willful.  They have been given an opportunity to comply.  They have the ability to comply.  They simply choose to disobey the court order/agreement.

Visit the forums and we can discuss your specific situation or brainstorm potential situations that could be forthcoming so that you can prepare to gather appropriate evidence for a future proceeding.
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