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Contempt of Court in Family Law Cases


Your ex-spouse breaks promises, ignores requests, and does whatever he or she feels like doing, no matter how it affects other people.  If this were not the case, you would not be getting divorced.  Your divorce lawyer reassures you that the family law courts know just how to deal with difficult exes like yours.  You protest that, if everything you experienced during your marriage is any indication, the rules do not apply to your ex.  In cases where one ex refuses to compromise or to follow the rules, judges’ decisions are more likely to be involved, but there are some exes out there who are not about to let a little court order get in the way of their plans.  If your ex-spouse disobeys a court order, the court has the right to hold your ex in contempt and impose penalties until your ex complies with the order.  A Boca Raton divorce lawyer can help you navigate your divorce from a stubborn ex, and the judge will issue contempt orders if necessary.

Why Do Courts Issue Orders of Contempt in Divorce and Child Custody Cases?

The civil courts have the right to hold litigants (such as plaintiffs or defendants in a lawsuit or parties in a divorce or probate case) in contempt if they disobey a court order.  The following are some court orders that a judge might issue in a divorce case:

  • Decree of dissolution of marriage, whether pursuant to a mediated settlement agreement (MSA) or a trial
  • Temporary or permanent alimony order
  • Restraining order requiring one spouse not to contact the other
  • Temporary or permanent parenting plan
  • Child support order

All divorce cases that become final have a divorce decree, and all couples who go to court about co-parenting their minor children, regardless of whether the parents have ever been married to each other.  In contentious divorce cases that drag on for a long time, the court might also have to issue temporary parenting plans; they might even order temporary alimony to ensure that the household bills get paid while the divorce is pending.

Consequences of a Contempt Order

By holding someone in contempt, the court can pressure the person into obeying the court order by imposing penalties, usually in the form of monetary fines.  If it is a civil contempt order, the person can avoid the penalties simply by complying with the original court order, but if it is a criminal contempt order, it is not possible to avoid the penalties.  Jail time as part of criminal contempt is rare, but it is possible.  If the court is threatening you with contempt because of non-payment of alimony or child support, you can get out of contempt by providing evidence of your genuine inability to pay.

Contact Schwartz | White About Divorcing a Stubborn Ex

A South Florida family law attorney can help you if your ex-spouse is refusing to obey court orders about finances and parenting time.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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