Contempt of Court – The Basics in Divorce or Family Law Cases (Adapted from NW Justice Project) PART II – Is contempt the right choice?

Part I defined contempt as intentionally disobeying a court order. A family law attorney is your best resource for determining if contempt is appropriate in your case. Before your family law lawyer and you decide to seek action for contempt there are questions you should yourself.

  • Is the court order in still in effect?
  • Does the other person know about the order? Were they served with a copy or present when the order was signed by the judge?
  • Did you meet your responsibilities under the order that apply to the area of contempt?
  • Does the order clearly describe the responsibilities of the other party?
  • Do you have enough proof of a violation?
  • Is there a reasonable excuse for the violation or was there an inability to obey despite reasonable efforts?

If “no” is the answer to these questions, then the court will not find the other party in contempt or they may not even hear your contempt motion. Before filling out the forms for contempt, ensure that the order is in force and the other party knows about it. Meet your responsibilities so the other party can meet theirs. If the responsibilities are not clearly described in the order then get it clarified or changed.  Have proof of order violation through first-hand knowledge—your own or another witness. Make sure there is not a reasonable excuse or inability to obey.

Your family law attorney can assist you in answering these questions and determining if contempt is right for your case.

NEXT:  PART III – The risks of filing for contempt