Even though parties may believe all their issues were settled through a divorce action, custody case, or other family court action, other issues may arise later requiring additional action by the court. In other cases, some individuals may need temporary relief until the court can issue a final order.
A Motion for Order to Show Cause asks the court for specific relief. The relief being requested can relate to many areas of family law. When a party files a Motion for Order to Show Cause, the court sets a hearing date for the parties to argue the matter before a family law judge.
What Does it Mean to “Show Cause?”
When an order to show cause is issued, the court orders a party to appear before a judge to explain why a specific action should or should not be taken. In other words, the party whom the order is filed against must “show cause” why the court should not grant the relief sought by the petitioning party.
Reasons for Filing a Motion for Order to Show Cause
There are many reasons for filing a Motion for Order to Show Cause. A spouse may file a motion requesting temporary custody or support payments. A motion may be filed to request that the court issue an order prohibiting both parties from disposing of any assets.
A spouse that had to leave the marital home because of domestic violence might file a motion requesting the court grant them temporary possession of the home. In other situations, a spouse could request that the court order the other spouse to provide financial information if the spouse is attempting to hide assets.
However, one of the most common reasons that a Motion for Order to Show Cause is filed is when a party violates the court’s existing order.
For example, a parent files a motion requesting the court to enforce the terms of the parenting agreement and time-sharing agreement. This situation occurs when a custodial parent refuses to allow visitation or changes the time-sharing schedule repeatedly and without just cause.
The court then schedules a hearing requiring the other parent to appear and provide “good cause” for violating the parenting agreement. Both parties have the opportunity to argue their side before the judge issues a final order.
Motions for Order to Show Cause may also be used when a person violates a protective order. The court will issue an order directing the party to appear in court to explain why they violated the order.
What is the Purpose of a Motion for Order to Show Cause?
The second purpose is to hold the respondent in contempt of court for failing to obey the court’s previous order. In many cases, the threat of penalties for contempt of court may be sufficient motivation to encourage a party to follow the court order’s terms.
The judge could also modify the terms of the previous order as a consequence of the party’s failure to obey its first order. For instance, the judge could modify the parenting plan or order the respondent to pay the petitioner’s financial losses, costs, and expenses incurred because the respondent failed to follow the court’s order.
The court has a wide variety of actions it might take, depending on the case’s facts and circumstances.
Getting Help with a Motion for Order to Show Cause
Some jurisdictions in Florida provide instructions for filing motions requesting an order to show cause hearing. However, the process of filing a petition and presenting evidence at a hearing can be complicated. A mistake could result in the judge refusing to issue an Order to Show Cause or ruling in favor of the other party.
It is best to seek legal counsel if your ex-partner is violating the terms of a court order. An attorney explains your options.
If you receive an Order to Show Cause, do not ignore the order. You must appear before the court at the date and time specified in the order. Failing to appear in court could result in the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
Instead, contact a family law attorney to discuss your options for defending yourself against the allegations in the motion. You need to protect your best interest, which could mean mounting an aggressive defense to an Order to Show Cause in family court.