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Contempt of Court Proceedings

Handling Contempt Proceedings

Family law matters are not finished just because the judge issues a final order, many times.  Many final orders court often require that certain actions are taken. However, just because a court orders something, doesn’t necessarily mean that people always comply.  You can take steps to make a party comply with a court’s orders.  This brings us to the topic of today’s blog — motions for contempt and contempt proceedings.

Punitive vs Remedial

Motions for contempt come in two different forms: punitive or remedial. Punitive contempt seeks to punish the contemnor (the person engaging in contempt) for their failure to comply with court orders. Remedial contempt, on the other hand, seeks to achieve compliance with court orders. Because these types of contempt seek to accomplish different ends, there are different requirements for each.

Burdens & Factors

Proving remedial contempt is different than proving punitive contempt.  Proving remedial contempt requires a party to demonstrate that the contemnor: (1) did not comply with a lawful order of the court; (2) knew of the order; and (3) has the present ability to comply with the order. Further, the level of proof required under this demonstration is by a preponderance of the evidence.

Punitive contempt has a higher burden of proof.  Punitive contempt elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Those are: (1) the existence of a lawful order of the court; (2) the contemnor’s knowledge of the order; (3) the contemnor’s ability to comply with the order; and (4) the contemnor’s willful refusal to comply with the order.

Issues with Contempt

Motions for contempt, of either variety, can be tricky. Although it may be difficult to deal with the contemnor’s failure to comply with a court order, getting relief is oftentimes problematic. Cost is the first major challenge in motions for contempt. Filing the motion, and all procedures related to motions for contempt can carry a considerable price tag. What’s worse is that depending on how things turn out, you may or may not be able to have your attorney’s fees reimbursed from the other side. Additionally, motions for contempt may take a long time, and they may delay the resolution of your case.  A court’s docket is usually very busy and getting a quick date may be impossible.  Furthermore, depending on how the court handles the timing of motions, this may prolong the duration of the entire litigation process.

Final Thoughts

People don’t always do what’s in their best interests. If you aren’t complying with court orders, or if you feel that the other side in your case has failed to comply with court orders, it’s best that you speak with an attorney qualified in the area of family law. Here at Modern Family Law, we dedicate our practice exclusively to family law. We have experience handling contempt issues, and our attorneys have the expertise necessary to assist you with your case. If you need help, call today for a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Posted February 21, 2017
by: MFL Team


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