Contempt Of Court Consequences And Punishments

contempt of court consequencesAny time an individual violates a court order they risk being held in contempt. Contempt of court consequences can include both civil and criminal penalties depending on the infraction, but in some cases can be quite severe.

A motion for contempt is a fairly common occurrence in divorce proceedings. Before discussing contempt of court consequences, it is important to first understand the definition of contempt.

Definition Of Contempt

To be in contempt of court, it must be proven that a person willfully or intentionally violated their court order. The accuser must prove that the accused party:

  1. Knew about the order,
  2. Knowingly violated the conditions despite having the ability to comply, and
  3. Lacks any reasonable excuse for the violation

The burden of proof lies with the accuser so compiling evidence prior to filing for a motion for contempt is crucial.

The entire point of civil contempt was originally to coerce compliance rather than punish with confinement. Click To Tweet

Contempt Of Court Consequences

Depending on the infraction, contempt of court consequences can include fines, compensatory visitation, a modification to the custody arrangement, and in some instances even jail time.

In most cases, if someone is held in contempt, the court will first give them the opportunity to make amends for the violation. This could include repaying owed child support or allowing the opposing party to have additional parenting time for failing to comply with a visitation schedule. If those make-up requirements are met, the court is unlikely to enforce any additional contempt of court punishment since the entire objective of a contempt action is to seek compliance.

If an issue continues, such as repeatedly withholding visitation, a court can modify the custody order. Usually, a court will only modify a custody arrangement if the contempt action is included with a motion to modify.

Contempt of court punishment can include jail time, but that is generally rare. The entire point of civil contempt was originally to coerce compliance rather than punish with confinement. More times than not, the possibility of jail time is enough to convince the offending party to comply with the order so additional punishment is not necessary.

Contempt of court consequences can include additional damages in some states as courts will issue sanctions to help cover the losses incurred from the contempt action.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Filing For Contempt

When a person files for contempt, a new case is opened and the accused party will need to be properly served.

Evidence must then be presented to the court showing that the contempt action took place and the violation was intentional.

Prior to filing for contempt, it is a wise choice to send your ex a letter notifying of your intent. The court will likely view this as an act of good faith showing that you are sincerely interested in coercing compliance rather than just trying to stick it to your ex. In your letter, make sure to clearly explain how they can remedy the situation before going to court. If they missed child support payments, provide them with a certain number of days to repay you before you seek enforcement from the court.

Once all other efforts to coerce compliance are exhausted, you need to file a motion of contempt with the same court that issued the order being violated. The court will issue a hearing date where both sides present their case and a judge will decide whether contempt of court occurred and if so what the contempt of court consequences should be.

If you are concerned about contempt of court consequences or if you think your ex should be held in contempt, you should contact a family law attorney as soon as possible to go over the definition of contempt and review your options.

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8 comments on “Contempt Of Court Consequences And Punishments

    Although it looks like this is completely one-sided commenting, I suppose that falls in line with the way they award custody in court anyways. It is about welfare, so dads can just as easily win custody if they just apply for government assistance, they need to quit fooling themselves if they think there is still some conspiracy against dads, the conspiracy is not about gender it is about using people to extort money to fund their system. My ex was a horrible father, I had to pay him to even fulfill his visitation and not upset our daughters. He had quit his job to get out of child support for a year before he sued for sole custody and alienated my daughters completely against me, the courts treat him like a God, and he is literally pond scum. Pond scum is cool to my girls though and he required government assistance so pond scum is cool to the court too. Since he stole them he and his wife finally got real jobs and he got life insurance payments that made him independently wealthy, but the orders that they wont throw out that lied about my income and his are about to put me in jail, when there has been no way I could have paid them to begin with. They took my will to LIVE. How am I supposed to WORK when I dont want to LIVE?

    In my divorce my ex said that she didnt want any of the money I was to recieve from a workmans comp case. 6 years laster she asked me to start paying which I paid $2500 out of the $5000. I fell on hard times and told her I would start in paying soon. She siad that wasnt good enough so I borrowed money and sent it through cash app( cash app stated she was a user) She told me she wasnt a user now the money is floating around ready to go back in my account. She filed contempt orders. She says I am going to jail for 15 years and that her attorney wants to throw me in jail. I sent her the bank statement with proof I treid to pay. Mean while I have gotten family member to pay her off. What happens next? what happens to the contempt order?

    What if you have filed for contempt and the other part continues to disobey the parenting plan between the time of the file and the actual court date? Would one have to go in weekly to file for contempt or could immediate action be taken such as calling the police to have the children delivered to you.

    Good luck, they just fined my son in contempt of court , fined him a $1000 and added six months to his 30 day jai! Sentence if he didn’t pay in two months. So now he will have to serve seven months owe an add $1000 and leave his five year old daughter who suffers from severe anxiety . His other daughter’s mom even pleaded with the judge that she didn’t want him to go to jail. The judge didn’t care. She did it anyway.

    What if the other parent neglects to fulfill their schedule of visitation and causes the other parent to have to provide 100% care of the children? This causes loss of free time, loss of financial freedom due to support being based on parenting time, and loss of relationship with that negligent parent.?

    I consulted an attorney about that and he said that most judges will look at it and say, “yay for you mom, you get to spend more time with your children”.

    I have a compliance hearing haven’t been able to find a job fast enough and looking at 60 days what’s my chances of staying out if jail

    Good luck, they just fined my son in contempt of court , fined him a $1000 and added six months to his 30 day jai! Sentence if he didn’t pay in two months. So now he will have to serve seven months owe an add $1000 and leave his five year old daughter who speechwriters from severe anxiety . His other dauther’s mom
    even pleaded with the judge that she didn’t want him to go to jail. The judge didn’t care. She did it anyway.

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