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Did you know that parties to a family law case could sue one another for contempt of court?  Practically every child custody and child support order state that the orders, if not followed, could result in severe civil or criminal penalties. That is because there are some people who will comply. When a person willfully violates court orders, the other party may seek contempt sanctions. In increasing severity, the court could hear evidence proving a willful violation of a court order, and impose a fine, imprisonment, and/or attorney’s fees. When you are sued for contempt, it is necessary to take the charges seriously. Likewise, when your ex-partner refuses to follow court orders, it is necessary to consider whether to seek contempt sanctions.

Unfortunately, there are some orders that a court might make that cannot be enforced by contempt. In such instances, you may need an attorney to obtain updated orders that can be enforced by contempt.

If you are not represented by an attorney, then you probably should not file a contempt case by yourself. Contempt cases are technical. You are likely to find yourself facing a highly competent attorney who seeks to discredit your allegations. They find technicalities to get the charges dismissed. But when faced with clear and indisputable facts, contempt of court cases can succeed. That same problem can work both ways, though. You may need that highly competent attorney to represent you if you are charged with contempt. People accused of contempt are entitled to be represented by an attorney, even if they cannot afford one.

Contempt cases are frequently needed in child support cases in which the support payor is self-employed, has the ability to pay, and simply chooses not to pay. Like any criminal case, you still must prove the ability to pay “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but often a business owner faced with a contempt charge will start to take his or her support obligations more seriously and pay them.

Family law contempt cases are a bit different than ordinary contempt cases. That is because orders continue to have full force and effect after the contempt case is tried to completion and because the parties to a family law case still have to deal with one another long after the case is done.

When we are consulted about the possibility of seeking contempt of court sanctions, we ordinarily explore other options first. If a W-2 employee fails to pay child support, we usually seek a wage assignment instead of filing a contempt. If there is a bank account that holds the money, we may seek to attach the bank account and levy upon it.

Unfortunately, some parties in family law matters simply will not respect court orders. If a romantic relationship breaks down in a manner where the parties basically have no respect for one another, once in a while, the parties also do not respect the court that orders them to cooperate. There are many ways to enforce a judgment, such as levying on a bank account or garnishing wages. But when a person simply defies the court, we step into the realm of civil or criminal contempt of court. Family law contempt is remarkably different than other areas of family law. beyond a reasonable doubt. Also, there are far more kinds of evidence that are either admissible or inadmissible.

Civil contempt charges are different than criminal contempt. The result of civil contempt is not a criminal conviction or criminal sentencing. But it may involve a fine, the payment of attorney’s fees, and, in some instances, civil contempt can involve longer imprisonment than criminal contempt. For instance, if you can prove that the child support payor has the money but chooses not to pay the support, then a court could order him (or her) to stay in jail until the money is paid. It is said that the civil defendant holds the keys to his own jail cell. Until he “does the act” that the court requires of him, he can stay in jail.

We offer contempt prosecutions and defenses.