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Stepmother thinks her husband should try for contempt against the mother; wants to know how to do contempt

Your Question:
my husband has joint custody of his daughter. since the order in 2002 her mother has made it extremely difficult for him to see her. she has denied visitation on more than one occasion and we have several of these dates documented with police. we are interested in filing for contempt but really cannot afford to pay an attorney for this. we have read that you can file contempt charges on your own. the only thing is we do not know where to find the paperwork or where or how to go about filing. the courts have been of no assistance when my husband has called they give him no info. they just say get a lawyer. when i call they say he has to call be cause it is his case and i am mearley the step mother. so my question is if you have the answer where would we get this paperwork? also where would we go to file the paperwork? by the way the state we live in is texas.

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My Answer:

Thanks for writing.

Contempt is a pretty difficult thing to argue because it's akin to a criminal prosecution. You need to make sure all the pleadings are done exactly right, and you need to know how to argue the case with evidence that is admissible and relevant. You must prove the case "beyond a reasonable doubt", otherwise the motion for contempt is denied.

That you and your husband don't even know what forms to use and how to file suggests that you will almost certainly fail at moving for contempt. I suggest that you don't attempt it until you can afford an attorney because you won't get a second chance to prove your case.

Further, it's true that you aren't a party to the case with the court. You are an outsider. That you're married to one of the parties is irrelevant to the court. It counts a lot in your household, but not to the law. Don't take it so personally.

Yes, it's all frustrating. The only way to change it is to start to hold this woman accountable. And the only way to successfully do that is to go before the court.

Alternatively, it's easier to ask the court to modify orders. You don't have to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt", but rather with a preponderance of the evidence. This means that you just need the evidence to convince a judge to lean in your direction, rather than proving beyond doubt that you've proven your case.

So, your husband would ask to modify orders in attempt to resolve the problems that exist. He would propose new orders for XYZ that he thinks would be better.

Good luck.


This website gives common sense advice that is not intended to act as legal guidance nor psychological guidance. The author is neither an attorney nor licensed psychologist. For specific legal guidance or specific psychological guidance, consult with a licensed professional.

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