Noncompliance with Custody Order

We are having an issue with my stepdaughters mother following the current court order for custody and need some advice. The current custody order grants my husband the right to have his daugther for six consecutive weeks every summer in his home state (daughter lives in NC and we live two states away). His ex is permitted a three day visitation period with her daughter at the end of the first three weeks. The order clearly states she is to visit with the child in the home state of the father, rather than NC. This was done to prevent the child from having to make the 7+ hour trip to NC for a short period of time. Yesterday, his ex informed him that it is her plan to pick up her daughter and take her to NC for the weekend visit, regardless of what the order states. She is currently expecting another child and is not supposed to travel outside of NC, so this is her reason behind violating the terms of the order.

His ex was found in contempt of court in 2010 for violating the court order and denying my husband his visitation with his daughter for approximately 5 months because she did not believe that my husband was allowed to take his daughter on vacations during his visits. She was ordered to 30 days in jail or purge conditions, which she chose to purge.

The question we have is what we should do at this point. We know her plan is to violate the terms of the order, to which my husband did not agree to change the terms and informed her of his stance on the issue. It is no inconvenience to us for her to visit in NC, she has to do all the traveling, but we do feel bad for our daughter who will have to make the long trip. The greater concern is that she seems to think that she has the right to decide when to follow the order and when she can make changes based on her opinions and circumstances. We would like her to be held accountable to following the order at all times unless mutual agreement to change the terms is made between the parents. At the same time, we are not sure if it is worth the time and effort to file contempt charges and then perhaps have the judge state that she is not in contempt because of her inability to travel at this time. Our family court judge does not like her very much and has admonished her several times in previous court hearings, but he is also a fair and reasonable judge.

I would definitely appreciate a legal opinion as to whether or not we have a case for contempt. Thank you.

You cannot file for contempt until after the violation has actually occurred. Your hesitation to file based on one violation is warranted though. The process is lengthy and time consuming, and you may want to wait until there are a few violations before filing.