What You Need to Know About Contempt of Court in Family Law


Has your ex-partner or parent of your child failed to follow an order of the court? If so, they might be in contempt of court. What does this mean? And how can you get the court's help through a contempt order? Here's what you need to know.

What Is Contempt of Court?

In general, contempt of court occurs when a party fails to adhere to orders issued by a court. This can be through an action, such as violating an order to stay away from you, or inaction, like not paying a fee or fine. 

In most cases, the goal of pursuing any contempt of court actions is to get the person to resume adhering to the order. The court may use different tools to achieve this cooperation, including fines and even imprisonment. 

How Does Contempt Happen in Family Law?

While individuals can be in contempt of court by many means, there are a few common ways it happens in family courts. These include violating a restraining order, failure to pay child or spousal support after it was ordered by the court, and not abiding by established visitation rules. 

What Can You Do About Violations?

If you suspect that someone has acted in contempt of court, you must prove it to the court's satisfaction. This generally includes four key components.

You'll need to be able to demonstrate that there was a clear and legal court order involved. It must also still be in effect. Then, the other party must have known about the order. For instance, you may have proof of service or even a court record of a hearing. 

Once the legality of the order is established, you will show that the person was able to comply with the order. This may be simple, such as violations of a restraining order. It may be more complicated (for example, if you need to show they had the income to pay spousal support). Proving the ability to pay child support may not be required.

Finally, their actions must have been deliberate. Simply forgetting that it was their day to visit with a child may not be enough for contempt. However, failure to return the child after visitation is more likely to have been deliberate. 

Where Can You Start?

Proving contempt and getting a resolution from the courts is a vital part of protecting yourself and your family. Start by seeking help from an experienced family law attorney in your state today. 


3 October 2022

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