What Is Contempt of Court after Divorce?
In general, the court that issues a final divorce decree has the power to enforce all aspects of that divorce decree. If either party violates the divorce decree without acceptable justification and without filing a motion first, they can be considered to be in contempt of court.
Contempt can be broadly interpreted to cover all orders where there is an alleged violation by one spouse. When related to a divorce, contempt can involve child custody, child visitation issues, alimony payments, and access to property among other things. Contempt claims can arise from a variety of orders such as “Automatic Orders” that are in effect after the start of the divorce process, or “pendente lite” (temporary) Orders until final judgment, or Orders pursuant to a final judgment.
When Can You File a Motion for Contempt of Court?
You can file a motion for contempt of court when you have reason to believe that the other party has willfully violated a court order. Contempt proceedings begin when there is a claim by one party that the other has violated an order without just cause. Willful violation of a court order is crucial if your motion for contempt of court is to be upheld. For example, if someone were in a car accident and in a coma for a week and missed the weekly child support payment, in all likelihood the court would determine that that was not a contempt issue because there was not a willful violation of an existing court order.
Should you bring a contempt of court motion for child custody, child visitation or alimony? How do you defend against a contempt of court motion? The answers, of course, depend on your very specific circumstances. My name is Jim Katz and I have been practicing family law for over 30 years. Call my office at (860) 871-9449 for a free consultation.