Order to Show Cause / Request for Order
Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Order to Show Cause?

In the United States legal system, an order to show cause (also known as a Request for Order in California,) is a court order that requires a person or entity to justify, explain, or prove something. It requires that someone appear in court on a pre-arranged date and provide reasons to why a requested order should not be made.

At times, this order is used instead of a motion when time is of the essence and an immediate solution is needed. Compared to a motion, is often faster and easier to file an order to show cause, although the order to show cause form requires details about the parties involved, case number, court of filing, person filing, and relief being sought.

OSCs are often used in child custody situations that are urgent to protect children and keep them safe, but they are useful in many other legal instances as well.

What Is the Purpose of a Show Cause Hearing?

The purpose of an order to show cause hearing is to bring a request for relief by one party in front of the court. An order to show cause hearing may be referred to by other names depending on where the matter takes place, such as “rule to show cause hearing” and “motion for an order to show cause.”

At such a hearing, the court will require the respondent to appear and explain to the court why it should not grant the relief that is requested. Many times, the respondent will provide details about why the party who filed the order failed to take a certain action or did not meet other required obligations.

What Is a Show Cause Penalty?

A show cause penalty is an administrative punishment that is given when one party in a legal matter is found to committed a major violation of an established rule. A party in a family law case can be held in contempt of court and face a civil penalty in the form of a fine as well. This commonly occurs when a party violates a shared parenting plan. In addition to a show cause penalty, a judge can also order make-up time with children, jail time, and award attorney’s fees if the court finds contempt.

What Is the Purpose of a Show Cause Letter?

A show cause letter is a piece of correspondence that advises another person that he or she has the opportunity to show why a legal action should not be taken against them. Show cause letters are commonly provided to corporate employees by human resources departments during a disciplinary process and between parents who share children in common. In many instances, this letter follows an initial letter that has already outlined the concerns of the person filing the order. It is a way to ensure procedural fairness before action is taken against a person and provide an opportunity to formally respond.

What Is a Show Cause Hearing in Family Court?

An order to show cause family court hearing may address issues of domestic relations, domestic abuse, child custody, visitation rights, property agreements, and alimony orders. Family court matters are often addressed through order to show cause filings because they require an immediate answer for the safety and security of involved parties. Custodial and non-custodial parents often participate in order to show cause hearings in family court.

This legal process can ensure that court-ordered parental visitation times are adhered to and that the needs of children are put first. The main goal of these proceedings is to get the non-complying party to follow the court order and resolve the family matter quickly and efficiently.

What Can an Order to Show Cause Make People Do?

If you receive a show cause letter, you have the opportunity to dispute the allegations being made and state your case. You can agree or disagree with the request of the order or even provide a statement about how you would like something handled differently and why. Depending on your jurisdiction, a judge may require you to file a response to a petition for rule to show cause. But even if it’s not required, a written response may help your case. If you fail to respond to a court-issued order to show cause due to a charge of contempt, you could face significant fines and even jail time.

How to Respond to an Order to Show Cause?

A response to an order to show cause typically requires you to show up in-person to the hearing. You can provide an answer to the order and state why you object to the order being issued. This is where you provide details of the facts about how you really did comply with the court order or a good reason why you did not comply with it. Alternatively, you can comply with the court order before the scheduled hearing and avoid taking the matter any further.

If you would like assistance with completing and filing an order to show cause or responding to an OSC, please contact We The People. Our professionals are very familiar with this legal process and are trained to help clients pursue their own legal matters to achieve desired outcomes.

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