Contempt of court occurs when an opposing party violates the terms or commands of a court order. Contempt can be a tricky issue because there are so many potential paths to resolution.
Is my ex-spouse or co-parent in contempt?
In any potential contempt of court scenario, first ask yourself the most important question: is my ex-spouse or the parent of my child violating the court’s order(s)? Whether it is your parenting plan or your separation agreement, you should be able to point to concrete language in the court order that the opposing party has violated or is continuing to violate.
For example, does your parenting plan require that the opposing party allow you to have a specific amount of parenting time on specific days, and has the opposing party refused to allow you to exercise your court-ordered time with your children? Alternatively, does your separation agreement require that your ex-spouse provide a certain amount of funds by a certain date, and has he failed to do so? Other examples of contempt in family law cases include the following:
- Failing to pay child support;
- Failing to pay spousal support;
- Failing to abide by transportation mandates in a parenting plan;
- Failing to file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order;
These are some examples of potential contempt scenarios, but the possibilities are endless when it comes to persons who refuse to follow a court order.
What are my options?
If the answer to the first question is a “yes,” then you want to consider several options to stop the person from violating the court order. Though there are other methods to stop violations of court orders, this article will highlight three commonly-used ways to stop contempt.
The first option is to have an honest conversation with your ex-spouse or co=parent. They are likely aware of the court order, but they may not understand how or why they are violating it. Show them the court document, explain what they are required to do (or to not do), explain to them how you believe they have violated the order, and ask them to stop. Sometimes, this method can prevent the involvement of lawyers and save you both time and money. However, if they have a negative response to what you say and refuse to stop violating the order, then proceed to options two or three.
The second option is to have an attorney send a demand letter to the opposing party. This will show your ex-spouse or co-parent that you are serious in your request for them to obey the court order. Your attorney will similarly point out the relevant provisions of the court order, and explain to the person how they have violated it, and request they immediately stop. Your attorney will also likely threaten option three, which is . . .
A motion for contempt of court. You will want your attorney to prepare and prosecute the motion. A motion for contempt of court is a court document that requests the court do two things (1) require the person to “purge” their contempt – meaning they must comply with the order – or face jail time and (2) award attorney fees and other financial penalties against the opposing party. The motion for contempt is a powerful tool and the last step in trying to enforce the order. The court has a wide degree of discretion in creating relief designed to stop the violations of the order and prevent them in the future.
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There is no substitute for the advice an experienced attorney can give you on how to most effectively handle your contempt case. Our family law attorneys are on standby to assist you with your case and alleviate the stress it is causing you. Contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Office of Dmitriy Borshchak for your free contempt consultation today.