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Contempt of Court Proceedings


Child custody orders, spousal maintenance awards, and child support orders are legally binding, which means that those who fail to abide by their terms could face serious consequences, including being held in contempt of court. If a person fails to comply with a court order, initiating contempt of court proceedings may be the wronged party’s only option. This does not, however, mean that engaging in these proceedings is a simple process, making it especially important for those whose former partners are refusing to comply with a court order, to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale family attorney who can walk them through their legal options.

What Does it Mean to be Held in Contempt of Court?

Family law courts have a number of different tools at their disposal when it comes to forcing someone to comply with a court order, one of which is to hold the non-complying party in contempt of court. Generally, the consequences of being held in contempt depend on the nature of the violation, as well as what terms the judge believes would encourage the non-complying party to adhere to the court order. In many cases, judges order those who violate family law court orders to:

  • Complete a parenting class;
  • Pay a fine;
  • Garnish the person’s wages;
  • Obtain counseling; and
  • Attend future court hearings.

In some cases, judges need to take more drastic measures, especially in situations where a person has already been held in contempt, but continues to violate a court order. When this occurs, the violator could even face jail time.

Who Can be Held in Contempt of Court?

Being held in contempt of court means that someone has refused to obey a valid court order. However, that individual can only be held in contempt if there is evidence that the person in question:

  • Was subject to the court order requirements;
  • Knew of the court order;
  • Had the ability to comply with the order; and
  • Willfully refused to comply with the court order.

Even if all of these requirements are satisfied, a person can only be held in contempt if he or she is notified of the hearing and a judge determines that such a ruling would be an appropriate remedy.

When is Holding Someone in Contempt of Court Appropriate?

When it comes to family law, there are a variety of reasons for asking a court to hold someone in contempt of court. For instance, a person can be held in contempt if he or she:

  • Fails to make child support payments;
  • Fails to make alimony payments;
  • Fails to make reasonable efforts to comply with a parenting plan;
  • Fails to deliver certain property to a former spouse following a divorce;
  • Violates a domestic violence restraining order; or
  • Refuses visitation to a co-parent, or fails to return a child to a co-parent once a visitation period has ended.

If your own former partner has failed to comply with a court order and you have questions about whether their actions are severe enough to require contempt of court proceedings, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can advise you.

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Please call 954-945-7591 to speak with dedicated attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about your family law-related matter.





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