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What Are Show-Cause Hearings in Family Court?

In order to solidify their decisions, family court judges issue court orders in divorce and custody cases. These orders include specific details regarding what the involved parties must and must not do, and when one party does not comply with the terms in the court order, the other party can take action against them.

Failure to Follow Court Orders Can Result in Show-Cause Hearings

When a judge’s decision is entered into a court order, parties must abide by the terms of that order. Failure to do so can have legal repercussions.

If one party does not follow the order, the other party can file a motion to show cause. The court can then schedule a show-cause hearing to hear from the party violating the court order, during which the accused individual will have but one goal: showing the judge why they should not hold them in contempt of court.

When an individual is held in contempt, it means they’ve failed to comply with a court order and could face consequences as a result, including jail time and fines.

A show-cause hearing may be held in various circumstances when one party is not following the court order, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody

Generally, such a hearing is necessary in situations where one party is failing to pay or do something as ordered to do so by the court. If other methods of correcting the noncompliance are unsuccessful, the petitioning party can involve the court for assistance.

What Happens at a Show-Cause Hearing?

After the petitioning spouse or parent files the motion to show cause, the court schedules a hearing for the noncompliant parent to appear before the judge to — as the name implies — “show cause.” The individual must explain why they did or did not do something and why the judge should not grant the petitioning parent’s request for relief.

Both parents or spouses would appear at the hearing, allowing the judge to reliably hear from both sides. Based on each party’s arguments and any evidence the judge reviews, they can render a decision.

The judge may simply order the noncompliant party to take steps to follow through with their court order, or they may grant the request of the petitioning party, such as changing the terms of a custody or visitation schedule, for example. In more serious cases, the judge may find the noncompliant parent or spouse in contempt and impose penalties as they see fit.

Consequences of Failing to Attend a Show-Cause Hearing

No matter how difficult the circumstances, individuals should never fail to attend show-cause hearings. Simply not showing up to a court date can make the situation worse, and the judge may issue a warrant for that individual’s arrest. Additionally, failure to appear in court can result in license suspensions and other serious consequences.

A Skilled Family Law Attorney Can Offer Strong Representation During Your Hearing

The family law attorneys at Gucciardo Law Firm, PLLC, have extensive experience dealing with show cause situations. Whether you need assistance filing your motion or need representation during your show-cause hearing, you can rely on our legal team to provide the highest quality service. Contact our firm today to schedule your consultation

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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