When a couple with children files for divorce, the divorce cannot be finalized until the couple reaches a divorce agreement. In addition to debt and property division, the divorce agreement will address matters relating to the couple’s children, such as child support, child custody, and medical expenses.
Once a child custody order is in effect, both parents are expected to adhere to the agreement. However, for some divorcing parents this is easier said than done. It is not unusual for a parent to veer away from a child custody arrangement. When this is done knowingly and intentionally, it can cause a lot of upset on the other parent’s behalf.
Divorce attorneys often see this when a non-custodial parent fails to pay child support. In an effort to punish the parent for not paying, the custodial parent won’t let the non-custodial parent see his or her children.
Or, it can be something else. Perhaps the parents got into a disagreement and to manipulate the non-custodial parent, the custodial parent uses the children as pawns. Sometimes, non-custodial parents feel completely helpless when they’re denied access to their children, but under Pennsylvania law, they do have legal options.
Contempt for Noncompliance of a Child Custody Order
Under Section 5323(g)(1) of the Pennsylvania Statutes, it reads: “A party who willfully fails to comply with any custody order may, as prescribed by general rule, be adjudged in contempt.” If a parent is in contempt for failing to follow a child custody order, they face the following penalties:
- Up to six months in jail.
- A fine not to exceed $500.
- Attorney fees and costs.
- A driver license suspension under Sec. 4355.
In the absence of physical or emotional abuse, a child should have access to two loving parents in his or her life. It is not fair to the child or the other parent to deny such access, especially if the reason for the denial is over child support arrears. Since parents have a history of not following child custody orders, the state has enacted laws to penalize parents who violate such orders as outlined above.