Compliance with Court Orders
As private investigators we often get requests to verify court order violations. For example, it is common practice that a no drinking clause is placed in a family law court order that forbids a parent from drinking alcohol (or using drugs) 12 hours before and during a visitation with a child. Sometimes, this order may be expanded to no drinking of alcohol period for a parent who has a very serious alcohol problem.
Needless to say, those parents who are bad alcoholics will simply violate the court order, especially when they think that no one is watching or that the children are too young to tell the non-offending parent. Often times, the alcoholic parent is sneaky and will slip alcohol into a soft drink making detection more difficult, especially for your children to identify. Having one of our investigators verify that a parent is in violation of a court order forbidding the drinking of alcohol or use of drugs is a common request that we receive.
Court Order Violation Consequences
If a court order is in place forbidding a parent from drinking or using drugs and the offending parent violates the court order, Contempt of Court can be filed against the offending parent. A call to CPS could be appropriate as well since this could fall under child neglect or abuse. As an investigator, I have personally seen parents go to jail for court order violations, specifically for drinking. However, it is more typical for the court to order the offending parent into a treatment program, either inpatient or outpatient. The court may also require the offending parent to be drug tested or tested by a breath analyzer alcohol test, sometimes both prior to and after a visitation with the children. Or, the court may order all the visits with the children with the offending party to be supervised by a third party. Long term, violations of court orders that are this serious is compelling enough for the court to consider making the non-offending parent theprimary custodian of the children
If no court order is in place for the prohibition of alcohol during visits with the children, you still have a course of action. Though, you cannot find the other party in Contempt of Court because there is no court order to violate, you can still certainly have your attorney take the issue before the judge and ask the court to intervene while preserving the evidence for the judge’s consideration at final hearing. It will also allow you to ask the Court to put into place Temporary Orders forbidding drinking or use of drugs when the other parent has possession of the children. Then, if the drinking parent violates the court order you can undergo enforcement actions and file for Contempt of Court. If there has been more than one violation of the court order, for example, if the parent continues to drink after being ordered into treatment, the judge will likely punish the offending parent by sentencing him or her to jail.
How We Can Help During Court Order Violations
Having a private investigator gather evidence for court order violations and presenting it during a hearing can bolster your case, keeping it from being a situation of he said, she said. It also keeps you out of the middle (including your children) and allows the court to consider evidence from a professional skilled at preserving and presenting evidence in court. Not only will the judge hear eyewitness testimony, we will also present pictures or video supporting our investigation.
Judges realize that the only way to get at this kind of evidence is through the use of private investigation since most people hide their offending behavior and violate the court order anyway. Private investigation is very much fair game and when presented by an experienced private detective will not offend the court and will help win your case. Family law judges expect for their orders to be followed and can be quite punitive to the offending party for court order violations.