Whenever the court issues an order in the context of a Divorce or Family Law case, it is imperative that each party comply and adhere to the Order. If one or both of the parties fail to comply with the direction court’s order, he or she can be found in civil contempt of the order.

Civil contempt requires a finding of a “willful” refusal to comply with a court’s order. A civil contempt action can be brought against the alleged violator by the person harmed by the contempt in an effort to compel compliance with the court’s order.

Civil contempt in the context of divorce and family law cases – where a party does not comply with a court order can arise in numerous circumstances. Some examples are:

– Failure to pay child support and/or alimony
– Failure to sign documents necessary to facilitate the transfer of property
– Failure to continue to provide a child with healthcare benefits
– Failure to pay attorney fees
– Failure to surrender property or allow access to property
– Failure to follow child custody and/or visitation orders
– Violating the direction of the Standing Order

If a party is found in contempt, the judge will decide how the violator can purge, cure or otherwise relieve him/herself of sanction for violating the court’s order. Sanctions can include, but are not limited to: payment of all monies due, payment of attorney’s fees, fines and/or incarceration for a definite period of time (or until the contempt is cured).

When facing a Motion or Citation for Contempt, a person should discuss the matter with a divorce / family law attorney as soon as possible. Frequently, contempt matters can be settled if the issues are addressed early on. The facts and circumstances may render an alleged violator with a defense and perhaps even an award of attorney’s fees.