How to File Contempt in a Family Law Case

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cases related to divorce are hard enough, but once the Final Judgment has gone through, you have the right to expect the court's order will be followed. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen, in which case your ex may be in contempt.

About Contempt

Contempt of occurs when the Court determines that an individual knowingly and deliberately violated a Court order. As such, before contempt can be found, the court must re-examine the original order to ensure it was sufficiently clear and then determine whether the individual was capable of obeying the order and then simply refused. 

For example, if someone is ordered to pay child support, but loses their job before their first payment is due, that may have a bearing on how the issue is handled.

There are multiple ways to be in contempt in a family law case. If you were granted visitation, but the other parent refuses, they may be in contempt. If someone purposely doesn't pay court-ordered child or spousal support, they may be in contempt. In fact, if any part of the court order is knowingly violated, a person may be in contempt of court.

Penalties for Contempt

There are multiple potential punishments for contempt: fines, jail time and more. In many states, it's unlikely you'll be found in criminal contempt (which carries jail time as a potential sentence) with regard to a family law case. Instead, the offending party will usually be charged with civil contempt.

In a Kissimmee family law case, the civil contempt charge is meant to punish and deter the offending party from violating the order in the future. Other penalties might include the suspension of privileges and rights or permanent modifications to the terms granted in the court order (for example, a parent who fails to return the children to the custodial parent on time consistently may have their visitation decreased, suspended or revoked). Additionally, they may be ordered to pay the other party's attorney fees and court costs or have to attend counseling sessions or parenting classes.

Filing a motion for contempt

The exact procedure varies by state. In Florida, the first step is to fill out a “motion for civil contempt”  form. While it's possible to fill this out yourself, if your issue is complex or if your ex is being especially combative, it might be best to get a Kissimmee attorney involved. You'll also want to carefully consider what relief you're requesting, which must be included in your motion.

Generally, you should file your motion  with the proper paperwork attached if necessary in the court that issued the original order, but if both of you have moved to a different county, you may want to transfer the case. If you do transfer and file in a different county, you'll need to attach a copy of the original order.

The motion must be  notarized and filed and  a copy  served on the violator. If you have their address, the Motion must be served according to the Rules of Civil Procedure, after which time a hearing will be scheduled where both parties will present evidence supporting their side of the case.

Using a family law attorney

It's recommended you go through your Kissimmee lawyer for filing because they may see things you may miss — things that may entitle you to additional relief.  Your attorney can best help you present your case.. If you're the one filing the motion, we may be able to convince the Court to require  your ex to pay for the attorney’s fees. Be aware that if your ex retains an attorney, having your own legal counsel  is vital.

If you need a divorce or child custody attorney in the Kissimmee, Florida area, call the experienced family law attorneys at Draper Law Offices at 866.767.4711 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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