When a court order has been entered commanding certain actions by the parties, it is vital that each party follow such an Order. If one or both of the parties fails to follow the court’s order, he or she can be found in civil contempt. There is no distinction made based on whether the violation is of a jury’s verdict, judge’s decree or agreement of the parties incorporated into a final decree and judgment.
Civil contempt requires a finding of a “willful” refusal to comply with a court’s order. Civil contempt is commenced for an alleged violator to be compelled to obey a court’s order. A contempt action is not a new civil action and merely requires reasonable notice of hearing.
Civil contempt in family law cases have been found in numerous circumstances. A few instances where civil contempt has been alleged are:
1) Failure to pay child support and/or alimony;
2) Failure to sign documents necessary to facilitate the transfer of property;
3) Failure to continue to provide a child with healthcare benefits;
4) Failure to pay attorney fees;
5) Failure to surrender property or allow access to property;
6) Failure to follow child custody and/or visitation orders.
If a party is found in contempt, the judge will decide how the violator can “purge” or relieve him/herself of sanction for violating the court’s order. Sanctions can include, but are not exclusive to, payment of all monies due, unconditional fine and/or imprisonment for a definite period of time.
If a party faces a Motion For Contempt, he/she should discuss their matter with a family law attorney. Particular facts and circumstances may render an alleged violator with a defense.
Post written by: Tiffany R. Lunn Esq