Contempt of Court & Child Custody in South Carolina

Contempt of Court & Child Custody in South Carolina

In this article, we’ll cover contempt of court and child custody in South Carolina. Oftentimes, children get in fights with their parents. This can be particularly problematic when children of divorced parents get into a fight with one parent that leads them to refuse to exercise parenting time with that parent. When this occurs, particularly following a long divorce, the parent who got into the fight feels guilty and does not want to force the child to spend time with them. However, what if this continues to be an excuse for two years and now the parent has not seen the child the whole time? Will you be successful if you file a petition for contempt against the other parent for violation of the custody order? The 2016 decision of Noojin v. Noojin suggests you may be.

Understanding Contempt of Court & Child Custody

The mother in the Noojin case was granted custody, with the father being awarded liberal visitation. However, soon after the custody order was entered, the two children refused to exercise visitation with their father, and for two years neither parent forced the children to have visitation. At trial, the father presented e-mails that proved the mother knew she was intentionally withholding visitation. Specifically, these e-mails suggested the mother never told the children’s father about their school events. This alienating behavior was seen as against the best interests of the children. Similarly, the court noted there were no other factors that indicated the father was not a fit and proper person to exercise visitation with the children.

Moreover, the evidence showed the mother permitted her children to disinvite their father from school events and block him from their cell phones. In addition, the trial court held that as a result of the mother’s non-compliance, she should be ordered to pay the father $41,375.84 in attorney’s fees.

The Analysis and Holding of Noojin

The South Carolina Court of Appeals found that the mother should be held in contempt for failing to follow the custody order entered by the trial court. Specifically, quoting Tirado v. Tirado, the court defined contempt as a “consequences of the willful disobedience of a court order” done “voluntarily” and “intentionally.” This suggests that a child’s resistance to visitation is not a sufficient reason to refuse visitation of another parent, especially if the parent who is withholding visitation is actively trying to alienate the child. However, it should be noted that the court engaged in a very extensive factual analysis, which indicates it may have come to a different conclusion if the facts had been different.

Get Help with Your Case

The court’s analysis and holding in Noojin indicate courts could potentially hold a parent in contempt of court for not forcing their child to exercise parenting time with their parent. To determine the potential for contempt in your case, you should contact the custody attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC to talk about the facts of your case and possibilities for litigation.

Contact us today for a free consultation.