The Rule itself is an order for the other parent to appear on a specific day and time to explain why they should not be held in contempt. The Rule has to be served on the other parent, and there is generally a right to be arraigned on the Rule and given the opportunity to request to have an attorney appointed to them. The first hearing on a Rule, then, is usually just procedural to see if the other parent has been served with notice and to see if they need an attorney. The court then sets a trial date and everyone is ordered to return then.
The actual trial is when the judge decides whether there has been a violation of the prior order. The judge assumed the affidavit was true when reading it in the early stage, but at the trial the judge assumes the opposite: that there has been no violation. The parent who requested the Rule now has to convince the judge in person that some part of the existing order has been violated by the other parent. If successful, the case then shifts to the other parent to (1) deny that there has been a violation at all, (2) explain why they did what they did, or (3) prove that although there had been a violation in the past, it has been corrected.
The next post will address the underlying purposes of a Rule to Show Cause and the remedies available to the judge.
And now, please enjoy this disclaimer: The content of this post, indeed of all of my posts, is intended to reference only Virginia law. I am writing this blog to give some idea of the complexities that can underlie family law issues in Virginia and in no way am I giving anyone legal advice here. While I hope these posts will be informative, no one should feel entitled to rely on the information presented here as an authoritative source. Anyone facing a legal issue is well advised to speak to a lawyer face to face to discuss the specifics of that case, rather than relying on general information found on the internet.