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Kendra Clark

A divorce decree is a legal binding order which both parties are required to follow the terms. Unfortunately, there are times when a former spouse refuses to abide by the requirements of the parenting agreement. This is known as civil contempt of court. When another party is in contempt you may seek a modification of an order, or file a petition for a show cause hearing.

A show cause hearing is a legal hearing that requires a party to appear and to provide reasons as to why they have failed to take action, or taken action that was directly against the parental agreement, or why the court should not grant relief. 

Reason for a Show Cause Hearing

To proceed with a show cause a petition is filed with the court stating what has been violated. Claimed violations may include:

  • Failure to pay child support.
  • Failure to pay spousal support.
  • Interfering with parenting time.
  • Interfering with custody.
  • Failure to pay child care expenses.
  • Failure to pay health care.
  • Failure to provide required information.
  • Other violations.

For example, the one parent continually violates the parenting agreement by interfering with the other parent’s visitation time. This continues despite the other parent asking the other parent to stop. The parent that has had their visitation shortened may file a petition to show cause.

What Happens at a Show Cause Hearing?

Once the petition is filed the court will schedule a hearing. At court the offending parent will be required to prove why she is not or is in compliance with the parenting agreement. This may require bringing receipts, cancelled checks, and other types of information for the court to review.

If the offending parent is found to be in contempt the court has different remedies such as sanctions or fines against the offending parent. The Court could change the parenting agreement or may just admonish the offending parent to follow the order.

How to Prepare for a Show Cause Hearing?

Keep accurate records. Keep a journal if there are custody or visitation issues. Make sure it has the date, time and a description of what occurred. Keep copies of checks, bills, and other written records that show payment.

Possible Result at a Show Cause Hearing

The Court may grant additional time to follow the order. The Court may require payment by a certain date. The Court could order sanctions, fines, and possibly jail time. Show Cause Hearings require specific documents and the presentation of evidence to the Court. You may want to obtain an attorney to ensure the process goes smoothly, and you have the necessary information for a strong case. 

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.


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