During a family law matter, the court may issue orders regarding visitation, finances, property division, and child or spousal support payments. Orders issued by the court are legally binding. Neither party can simply disregard the order and willfully act in violation without consequences. The court expects the parties will follow the order and does not take kindly to those who deliberately refuse to follow them.
Filing a contempt action is more about compelling compliance than punishing the non-complying party. If court orders are violated, the injured party can bring the violation to the court’s attention and request the court summon the offending party to explain why he or she should not be held in contempt. The remedy for contempt of court is usually progressively harsher depending on the violation and the number of violations. Many violations could lead to financial sanctions, loss of residential time, and potentially jail time for the violator.
Contempt is a very powerful tool; however, in some instances, it makes sense to try less severe methods of resolving any noncompliance before filing a contempt. Sending a demand letter, filing a motion to clarify, or attending dispute resolution such as mediation may lead to a faster resolution and preserve any amicable relationship between the parties.
If you feel that the other party in your family law case has violated the court’s order, or if you have been accused of violating a court order, it is wise to contact an attorney for assistance and representation.