What is a Contempt Action and why do you need a lawyer?
When a divorce is finalized, a divorce decree outlines essential information about the court’s decision. A divorce decree is an enforceable order by the court that both parties are legally mandated to follow.
Items outlined can include payment of child support or spousal support, a transfer of property, or specific visitation schedules. Unfortunately, too often, parties neglect or elect to ignore the outlined orders. This can greatly harm the spouse, who is dependent on support. While the penalties to the offending party for these transgressions can be severe, the spouse being affected is required to file a claim to make the court aware of the transgression. The offender is said to be “in contempt” and the notification to the court is the “contempt action”.
Contempt of Court
A contempt of court charge can be filed against a transgressor in violation of a court order if certain conditions are met. These conditions include:
- a valid order from the court
- awareness of the outlined order by both parties
- evidence of the transgressor knowingly violating a court order
Penalties will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, common penalties include the payment of fines, legal fees, and even jail time.
Is Your Ex-Spouse in Contenmpt of a Court Order?
If you feel your ex-spouse is in violation of a court order, you need an attorney who understands Massachusetts Family and Divorce law. Some individuals attempt to resolve issues directly with their former spouse. However, any agreement made cannot be enforced by the courts.
Civil contempt is defined as the failure to obey a court order that was issued for the benefit of another party. A civil contempt proceeding commences upon the filing of a complaint for contempt in the court in which the order or judgment is said to have been violated.
Complaints for contempt can prove to be a useful method to enforce various court orders and judgments including child support orders and also to compel discovery requests. In other instances people use contempt proceedings to enforce various types of post divorce judgments.
Get a case evaluation
If you feel that the other party in your proceeding is in contempt of a court order, or that you may be yourself, call us for a reliable assessment of your situation.
Attorney Cote offers a free case evaluation to better understand your contempt situation and address some of your initial questions and concerns. Call to speak with us and learn you options.
Our office has helped initiate and defend various types of contempt hearings.