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I have been requested to a show cause hearing regarding

Customer Question
I have been requested...

I have been requested to a show cause hearing regarding visitation. My ex husband alleges I denied his from seeing our minor daughter. I could not compel our daughter to get in my ex husband's vehicle. My ex husband was refusing to accept visitation with our minor son (her older brother), so she would not get into his vehicle. Does this situation mean I am in contempt?

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any papers in family court?

I have filed to have our custody and visitation order amended.

Lawyer's Assistant: Family law varies by state. What state are you in?

Virginia

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

My ex husband routinely (50%) waives his visitation rights.

Submitted: 4 months ago.Category: Family Law
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Answered in 2 minutes by:
3/20/2018
Family Lawyer: Sean K, Family Law Attorney replied 4 months ago
Sean K
Sean K, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 957
Experience: Family Law Attorney in Private Law Firm
Verified

Hi, I’m Sean and I will be assisting you as an expert today. I’m an attorney with more than 20 years of experience. It is my goal to provide a solid overview of your situation. Whether the analysis is good or bad as to your matter, I want to make sure you understand any points you need and that you have options to better address the questions you have. If I am able, I will also provide you with some resources. Please note that the system, independent from me, may offer a phone call. You are not obligated to engage in a phone call, but I am happy to speak if you desire. This is completely up to you.

While I am looking over your information, do you have an attorney handling your custody and visitation modification action?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I do not have an attorney handling either action
Family Lawyer: Sean K, Family Law Attorney replied 4 months ago

So there is an approach I would recommend in this matter. The reason that I ask if you have an attorney is that the procedure is not something that is complicated, but that does require a separate motion.

Since the Rule hearing deals, allegedly, with the denial of visitation and your modification also addresses visitation, the two are related.

It is a common practice to file what is called a Motion for Consolidation that brings both actions under the same track. This allows there to be evidence presented that may otherwise be challenging to have a Court consider on one that is needed on the other.

For example, in a Rule hearing about when visitation is frustrated by a child not wanting to go for visitation, it can be very difficult for a parent to "make" their child go. Some judges will allow this as a reason, others will simply not accept is and will hold the parent responsible.

Now in a modification action where a parent has not visited and their relationship has suffered with their child and the child is reluctant to go, this may absolutely be relevant and allowed by a Court.

So what people will do is file the consolidation motion and ask for, in you case, the Rule hearing and the modification to proceed as one case. Do be aware that whether to grant the motion is completely up to the Judge an there are some who do not like to consolidate actions, but there are things you can say to the Court to make it more likely they would grant the motion.

1 - that the events are all related to the same subjection matter.

2 - that it will save court time.

3 - that the same parties are needed for both.

4 - that it relates to children's issues and consolidation would allow the cases to be resolved quicker.

So, to answer you question - does this mean you are in contempt. Most definitely not automatically. The Rule hearing is where you would be allowed to explain what happened and tell the Court that you have tried to do everything you could to get your child to go, but they will not. Also it is an opportunity to explain the the limited involvement your ex has. Do understand that some judges, as I addressed above, don't allow a child to decide if visitation will occur and will hold the parent responsible, but the best way to address this is the ex's limited contact.

However, I believe the best course would be to have the matters consolidated into one.

Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. There is no specific course of action is proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege formed within this conversation.

If you have any follow up questions it would be my pleasure to answer them. As experts we only get credit for the time and effort we spend on our answers if you rate us positively - 5 stars is definitely appreciated but not required! There is no cost associated with you rating me and you can still ask follow up questions after rating me and I will respond.

One final point, there may be a delay between your question and my answer; this is because I'm either not at my computer or helping someone else but rest assured, if you ask, I will provide an answer. Thank you again.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you for your response. You provided helpful suggestions.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I know it is up to the judge but if found in contempt despite my explanation, what is the likely penalty? I read the VA code and it stated fines and possible imprisonment. Given that my ex is basing that I am in contempt for one occasion, and all the other information I provided, I am trying to gage the worst case scenario. Again, I know you can't be sure but what is your experience?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Also, my court date is tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. EST. So, I am out of time for filing anything. I have only been aware of the motion from my ex since last Wed, so less than a week to prepare.
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Could I ask for the consolidation motion directly to the Judge?
Family Lawyer: Sean K, Family Law Attorney replied 4 months ago

Does you ex have an attorney?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I don't know if he has an attorney.
Family Lawyer: Sean K, Family Law Attorney replied 4 months ago

So the reason I ask is that in situations like this - and it is all up to the individual judge - the likelihood for incarceration is low. While it still exists, it is not unusual for judges to take the harshest of actions. The idea behind Rule hearings is to make a person whole in light of the order. For instance, in cases where money such as support was to be paid, the Court generally will use incarceration to compel payment because the money is what makes a person whole under the order.

Here, what was not occurring is visitation (I realize that your ex does no frequently exercise, but the Court will likely look at what could be done to restore the person to what was contemplated under the order.) What I have seen many judges do is give a stern address to the parties and order that missed time be made up. The reason I asked about the attorney is that sometimes judges award one party to a portion of the other's fees. Not always done, but I always mention this to people.

The main thing for you will be to convey that you do all you can but that your ex has caused your daughter not to want to go - even mention the failure to visit with your older child.

Now, can you always request any relief before the Court anytime you are in Court - simply ask the Court to make a motion in Court. If you do this, set out the points I addressed above as well as what you raised about the short time you have had to prepare.

As a final note, with a modification and a Rule hearing, it would be a good idea to consider consulting with an attorney. It is also not unrealistic to have a Court grant you a continuance at tomorrow's hearing based on a request to consult with an attorney. I would make a couple of calls to attorneys today as the Court would likely ask if you had called anyone, but given the case is a Rule hearing, you had minimal time to prepare and you want an attorney, many judges would grant this. That would also give you time to prepare a consolidation motion.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thanks once again for your responses. You have helped ease my nerves immensely. I will do as you suggested.
Family Lawyer: Sean K, Family Law Attorney replied 4 months ago

Best of Luck and 5 star ratings are always appreciated.

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