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What Happens If I Violate My Virginia Court Order?

Court OrderLet’s say a Virginia court order specifies that you owe child support in the amount of $500/month, but you recently lost your job and haven’t been able to afford to continue paying. Or you moved yourself and your children to Maryland to be near your parents even though your custody and visitation order states that you must provide the court and the other party with advance written notice thirty days before relocating outside the Commonwealth of Virginia. Regardless of your justifications, these are violations of court orders and they should not be taken lightly. If you expect to soon violate your court order, or if you have already violated your court order, you are probably wondering about the possible consequences.

When one party in a custody or divorce case violates a court order, the other party has the opportunity to petition the court for enforcement of the order. In Virginia, this is called a Petition for a Rule to Show Cause. At the Show Cause hearing, the judge will give you an opportunity to defend your actions and present evidence as to why you violated the court order. If the court does not accept your explanation, the court may hold you in contempt and may issue a punishment that will vary depending on the type and severity of the violation.

Punishments may be civil or criminal, and will vary depending on whether the punishment is intended to be punitive or intended to simply force a party’s compliance with the original court order. Examples of punishments include the imposition of fines, payment of attorney fees, suspension of a party’s driver’s license, jail time, and jail time with a “purge bond” whereby the party must pay a certain amount of money in order to be released from jail.

If your circumstances suggest that you may soon violate your custody, visitation or support court order, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. You may be able to avoid a Show Cause hearing by working out an agreement with the other party and/or filing to amend certain provisions of your current court order. The family law and divorce attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C. have years of experience representing clients in Show Cause hearings and related matters. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.