When one party refuses to follow a court order, the other party can file a motion for contempt. Any violation of the terms of the order can be the basis for contempt.  For example, a party may file a motion for contempt if the other party is not paying support or following the custody schedule.

A party may be held in civil contempt or criminal contempt, but not both, so it is important to know the difference between civil and criminal contempt.  The purpose of civil contempt is to force compliance with the terms of the order; whereas, the purpose of criminal contempt is to punish a party’s non-compliance.

In any event, if an order remains in effect and the court determines that a party’s violation is willful, the court may find that the non-compliant party is in contempt.  If a person is found to be in contempt, the court is able to impose sanctions, which may include the following:

  • jail time (usually 1-30 days)
  • ordering the party held in contempt to pay the money owed
  • ordering the party held in contempt to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees

What is the procedure for contempt?

If one party believes another party is in contempt, they must file a motion in the existing case where the order was entered.  After the motion has been filed, the judge may issue an Order to Show Cause requiring the party who is alleged to be in violation of the order to appear and show cause as to why he or she should not be held in contempt.  If an Order to Show Cause is issued, it is the burden on the non-compliant party to show that he or she is not in contempt. Otherwise, the burden is on the filing party to prove that the other party has willfully violated the court’s order. Either way, a hearing will be scheduled and the judge will decide whether the party is in contempt.

If you believe you should file a motion for contempt or you are defending against a motion for contempt, the experienced family law attorneys and Lehnhardt Price Family Law can help you through each stage of the process. Call us today at 704-635-6278 for a confidential consultation.