Contempt Filed in Child Support Disputes

A former spouse who does not follow the court order intentionally is a situation that family law attorneys are all too familiar with. The party that is impacted can access court intervention in the event that a court order is violated for failing to pay child support or refusing to allow visitation between parent and child. When this occurs, a person can be considered in contempt for being disobedient in the eyes of the court. Consequences that may even include jail time could be enforced if a person does not abide by court orders. When faced with such a situation there are important considerations that should be made.   

Issuing a Contempt Order

Once orders, judgements or decrees have been issued by the court, a parent’s behavior can be managed following a divorce by holding them in contempt. When it comes to the governance of family law, orders can be enforced by the court surrounding:

  • Child Support
  • Visitation
  • Child Custody
  • Division of Property
  • Alimony

A motion for contempt can be filed with the courts if an order that was issued by the court is violated by one of the parents. The violating party may be found in contempt of court during contempt proceedings. If you are found guilty of violating a court order you may be penalized by:

  • Parental Counseling
  • Penalties or fines
  • Jail Time

Jail time is usually not an option that is considered practical as it would hinder a person’s ability to be in compliance with the court order, especially if they are employed and required to pay child support.

Contempt Order Requirements

It will be important that you are able to present evidence that support your claims and are consistent with your case. You must be able to prove that the accused person was in contempt at court by the following:

  • They knew of the court order
  • They knowingly violated the order despite being able to obey it

There must be specific language that orders a person to follow a court order or decree in order for the court to enforce it. The court order may need to be further clarified with the court if the initial order is not clear enough. Once the order has been revised, the party that violated the original order must be given the opportunity to follow the new order.

The parent is responsible for acting in the best interest of their child, meaning that the original divorce decree or child support order is the only way that the violating parent can be held in contempt for not paying child support. Any debts and liabilities that were awarded in the divorce that are not paid cannot be cause for a person to be in contempt.