Contempt of Court in Utah Custody, Parenting and Visitation Cases
In child custody cases, a Judge or Commissioner can hold a person in contempt of court for failure to comply with or interference with a parenting time or visitation order. There are numerous penalties that can be imposed, such as jail time, fines, awards of court costs and /or attorney fees to the aggrieved party, and an order for make-up parenting time.
In addition, that denial of time and willingness to obey the orders are relevant factors the Judge or Commissioner must consider when determining what is in the best interest of the child. Continuous and willful denial of the ordered time is a factor which may be found to be a change of circumstances, and the Judge may find that it is in the best interest of the child to change the residential parent or school placement parent.
The court can impose the following fines:
- 1st Offense: Up to $250
- 2nd Offense: Up to $500
- 3rd Offense: Up to $1,000
In addition to all the other penalties, if a person is found in violation of or to have interfered with parenting time or visitation the Judge can sentence the person who is in contempt of court to jail time as follows:
- 1st Offense: Up to 30 days in jail
- 2nd Offense: Up to 60 days in jail
- 3rd Offense: Up to 90 days in jail
If a court finds that a person is in contempt of a custody or visitation order, the Judge or Commissioner can charge all court costs arising out of the contempt proceeding against the person in contempt.
If a court finds that a person is in contempt of the orders regarding time with the child, the Judge or Commissioner can order the person in contempt to pay “any reasonable attorney’s fees of any adverse party, as determined by the court, that arose in relation to the act of contempt”.
Pursuant to a court has the authority to, but is not required to, order make-up time for the parenting time missed as a result of the acts of contempt. Generally, if holiday parenting time was missed, then similar or identical holiday parenting time is what the court will require to be made up. For example, if you plan to keep the child for Christmas this year, in violation of the Judge or Commissioner’s order, then chances are good you will not see your child on Christmas next year, and possibly for the next two years.
CHANGING THE CUSTODY OR VISITATION ORDER
If a person is found to be in contempt of an existing order, the Judge or Commissioner may find the parent’s willful disregard of the orders to be a change in circumstance, and may find that it is in the best interest of the child to change which parent is the residential parent or school placement parent. The Judge or Commissioner does not do this on it’s own, but if the other parent filed a motion to change custody, or school placement parent along with his or her Motion for Contempt, the court may find that the benefit of the change outweighs the harm and give custody to the other parent.
The Judge or Commissioner should also consider, among other factors, the following matters when determining what is in the best interest of the child:
- The parent more likely to honor and facilitate court-approved parenting time rights or visitation and companionship rights;
- Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court;
The court should consider, among other factors, the following matters when determining what is in the best interest of the child:
- Each parent’s willingness to reschedule missed parenting time and to facilitate the other parent’s parenting time rights, and with respect to a person who requested companionship or visitation, the willingness of that person to reschedule missed visitation;
- Whether the residential parent or one of the parents subject to a shared parenting decree has continuously and willfully denied the other parent’s right to parenting time in accordance with an order of the court.
Free Consultation with Child Custody Lawyer
When you need help with visitation time, custody, or other support issues, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506