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What are the consequences of being in contempt of the visitation order?

Trenton, NJ |

My ex is breaking the court order for the third time now. She knows what was discussed in court but now refuses to follow it. First time I was in court, she only got a slap on a wrist and was told not to do it again. The second time we were both at fault, so it was dropped and the order was changed. Now that it was changed she is reading into the order how she wants it, regardless of the fact that everything was explained to her in detail. I'm suppose to be seeing my child every Wednesday and every other weekend with her dropping the child off in the beginning of the visit and me bringing the child back. But because she refuses to follow the order, I only get to see my child every other weekend with me doing all the driving. Can this be resolved without going to court?

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Attorney answers 5


First, have it well documented so there's as little "grey area" as possible. Get a police incident report - at this point, I wouldn't say you want to press criminal charges (Look it up - NJSA 2C:29-9, contempt of court order, and NJSA 2V:13-4, Interference with Custody or Parenting Time); you don't want to appear more aggressive than is necessary (and it looks better with the police if all you're trying to do is document the incident... if it continues, they'll agree a summons is appropriate).

Anyway, return it to court via a motion - try to keep the anger level down, although you should express your frustration. I would ask for a modification requiring that each of you pick up the child. That way, she'll either drive and do the pick up or else.

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You have a few options to resolve this outside of filing a new motion with the court.

If you and your ex are able to agree upon the terms of the order you wish to change, you can draw up a consent order and submit that to the court. The court will enter the order and it will be signed by the judge to become a new enforceable court order.

If you think you could reach an agreement with a little help from a neutral third party and have no history of domestic violence (no active restraining orders), you can reach out to the court to schedule court provided mediation. Custody and parenting time mediation is provided by the court at no cost. If you reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will prepare a memorandum of understanding.

Lastly, you have the option of filing a new motion with the court to address the relief you seek, which may require your participation in mediation depending upon the contents of your motion.

This response is not to be construed as legal advice and is provided for educational purposes only. This response does not create an attorney/ client relationship. The response provides general legal information and education. This response does not address any specifics concerning this inquiry, as the inquiry as written may have omitted details which would make the reply unsuitable. The inquirer is strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in his or her own state to acquire more information about this issue. Licensed to practice in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.


Only a judge can hold a party in contempt. Just about any family law issue can be resolved out of court it's just a matter of how it can be done.

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I am afraid that a person such as you describe needs to be corrected by the judge once and for all.


You may wish to try mediation but that may not work. You may have to utilize the authority of the courts by filing a motion to enforce litigant's rights.

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