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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11759
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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If a couple has joint physical custody (50/50) and joint

Customer Question

If a couple has joint physical custody (50/50) and joint legal custody for all decisions, and one party takes the child to a therapist without telling the other parent until after the fact, can they be held in contempt of court? Also, when they finally did reveal this information they were not forthcoming about who the therapist was, etc.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Amber E. replied 1 year ago.

Any action that can be shown to be an intentional and willful violation of a court order may be deemed contempt of court, this includes failing to consult another parent when required to do so by the terms and conditions of the custody plan.

However, the challenge with contempt cases in family matters is often that courts are reluctant to punish a parent too harshly (the first time) if their action benefits the child in some way. Instead, what they often tend to do is issue an admonition of some kind and perhaps order the parent who violated the order to pay for the costs of court and attorney fees (if any). But that depends on the judge. Judges who are sticklers for their orders being followed to the letter may take additional measures, such as limiting the offending parent's authority. For example, a parent who fails to consult the other parent regarding medical care may be restricting from making any decisions regarding medical care at all (except in an emergency). And of course if it can be shown that the parent's violation actually harmed the child in some way, the penalty can be must stricter, including complete modification of legal and/or physical custody.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you! If a party is able to show a consistent pattern of behavior by the other parent that clearly shows a lack of cooperation in co-parenting, and a failure to foster good relationships with ALL family, in addition to the medical question, would those also be grounds for contempt?
Expert:  Amber E. replied 1 year ago.

If the order requires it, then yes. Many orders specifically order that the parents 'foster a good relationship' with one another. However, if it does order that a relationship be fostered with other relatives as well, then failure to do so may well be deemed contempt of that order.