Contempt of court: When your spouse violates custody orders

Like any parent enduring a contentious divorce, your child’s overall well-being always takes precedence. A child custody order aims to generate an agreement serving your child’s best interests. Since both you and your spouse only want nothing but the best for your child despite the divorce, the court expects both of you to adhere to all terms of the arrangement strictly.

However, against their better judgment, your spouse may exhibit behaviors or actions violating court orders. When they disobey knowingly and willfully, the court may hold them in contempt.

Sanctions for noncompliance to custody orders

Any misconduct intervening with a healthy parent-child relationship leads to contempt of court. For example, your spouse may intentionally disrupt your visitation time on multiple occasions. They may also deliberately block communication channels between you and your child. Further, they may consciously refuse to make support payments for your child’s educational, medical or extracurricular needs.

When any of these happen, Pennsylvania law imposes the following sanctions:

  • A fine not exceeding $500 and other administrative fees
  • Incarceration and probation of not beyond six months each
  • Denial, suspension or nonrenewal of license

Depending on your family’s circumstances and the court’s discretion, additional corrective measures may ask your spouse to make up for the lost quality time you would have spent with your child during visitation hours. They might also have to pay for corresponding costs you incurred in the process.

Custody orders require two willing participants

It is understandable to feel that you’d rather not file contempt charges against your spouse to achieve a loving, stable and safe environment for your child. While you only want to protect your child from unnecessary emotional upheaval, it is paramount that you also consider protecting your parental rights and interests. You can seek your legal representative’s assurance and work together toward favorable outcomes.


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