What is Contempt of Court in Divorce?

A family law court can grant a final decree of divorce.  The Court also has the power to set the terms and enforce every aspect of the separation and divorce, including custody, child support, alimony or division of property. A divorce party that violates the court decree can be held in contempt of court. If your former spouse has violated a divorce decree, you may file a motion for contempt of court. Family Law Attorney Monroe NC is experienced in marital litigation and can be entrusted to help you and your soon-to-be ex-partner try to part ways amicably or assist you in pursuing a court order for contempt if your spouse violates the order

Common Contempt of Court Divorce Issues

Parties in a divorce may, at times, find themselves in contempt of court. Such situations often happen when either of the divorce parties decides to take the law into their own hands. There needs to be proof that the accused party violated the divorce decree intentionally. Some common examples of contempt of court in a divorce process may include:

  • Violation of a restraining order;
  • Failure to pay child support as ordered;
  • Failure to pay spousal support as ordered;
  • Refusal of the other parent’s visitation as ordered; or
  • Failure to obey the visitation period by not returning the child to the other parent in time

Proving Contempt of Court in a Divorce

The accuser bears the burden of proof and can be on either party and is dependent on whether the court has issued an order for the alleged violator to appear and why they are not in contempt.  Either way, it is necessary to compile evidence before filing a motion for contempt. Having proper legal representation in collecting evidence or seeking an order to show cause is always in your best interest. There should be proof that the accused party:

  • Was fully aware that the order existed;
  • Had the capability to comply with the order yet violated the conditions intentionally; and
  • Lacks a valid excuse or cause for violating the order.

Consequences for Contempt of Court in a Divorce 

Depending on the violation, effects for contempt of court in a divorce, separation or custody order can include compensatory visitation, fines, attorney fees or modification of the custody arrangement. Jail time may also be a possible punishment for contempt. The party held in contempt of court may be first allowed to correct the mistake of violating the divorce decree, which may include having to repay any owed support. If the make-up requirements are fulfilled, the court may not enforce additional punishment because the core objective of a contempt action is forcing compliance.

Alternatives to Filing a Motion for Contempt

There are several alternatives for resolving a violation of a court order other than filing a contempt action with the court. A dispute resolution measure, such as mediation, with your former spouse, is one effective alternative. It may help you to resolve your differences faster and also cut costs. Another option is having your attorney request prompt action from your ex-spouse in correcting a violation. This is usually done through a written demand letter outlining the possibility of filing for a contempt of court order.

Divorce is complicated enough and does not need to be made more difficult by the non-compliance of your former spouse. Our experienced attorneys are ready to offer you help in enforcing your rights. Contact Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP today to learn more about contempt of court and get a lawyer to represent you in your case. 

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