Family Law Lawyers & Contempt Cases
Contempt is a remedy available in family court for a variety of reasons. One use of contempt in family court is civil contempt for failure of one party to pay support, including child support or alimony (spousal support). Civil contempt is normally brought before the court by motion. The motioning party will allege how the other party is in violation of the court order requiring support. The other party is entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard. Before the Judge will find a party in contempt, the judge must find that the failure to comply with the court order was willful.
If the judge finds a party in contempt of a support order, the judge may order incarceration, the payment of attorney’s fees and costs, compensatory or coercive fines and any other sanction the court believes will compel compliance with the order. Sometimes the judge may set a purge provision which is an amount that the contemnor may pay to avoid incarceration. The purge provision is determined by the judge based upon the present ability to pay of the contemnor.
Another use of contempt in family court proceedings is when a party fails to comply with a court order. For example, each party is required to submit financial information to the other party as part of the divorce process. Sometimes, one party refuses to turn over the requested financial information to the other party. When this issue is brought before the judge, the judge will require compliance. If the party still refuses to comply with the court’s order, the judge has contempt sanctions available, up to and including incarceration.
Contempt is not available in all situations, but when it is available, it is a powerful tool to enforce compliance. If you are involved in a situation where one party willfully refuses to obey a court order, contact the family law and divorce attorneys at our Gainesville, FL office for a free initial consultation to determine your legal rights.