Tag: custody; enforcement of visitation orders; contempt; compliance orders
  • Enforcing custody orders: civil contempt is not always the appropriate remedy

    GS 50-13.3 provides that an order for custody is enforced by civil contempt and its disobedience is punished by criminal contempt. This statute mirrors case law regarding contempt; civil contempt is to force present compliance with an order and criminal contempt is to punish a past failure to comply and to discourage future noncompliance.

    This distinction between civil and criminal contempt has been described by appellate courts as “murky at best,” and recent cases from the North Carolina Court of Appeals illustrate that contempt can be particularly difficult to apply correctly in custody cases. Most importantly however, these cases indicate that civil contempt probably is not an appropriate remedy for the most common enforcement issues that arise in custody cases.

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