Contempt of Court

In the state of Florida, contempt of court, or contempt, is a legal term which refers to a party that has refused to comply with a court order, mandate or decree. Consequences for being found in contempt can be serious and the party may be subject to fines, sanctions or incarceration.  In family law a party will have met these requirements to be found in contempt:                                        

  • a clearly defined court order that states obligations and or requirements
  • obligated party has the ability to comply with the order
  • obligated party willfully refused to comply with the order

The possible reasons for contempt in family law may result from a party refusing to comply with a co-parenting plan, failure to fulfill child support and or alimony payments, violating a restraining order.  It’s helpful to have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to help guide one through this period.

If a person is found to be in contempt, a judge may;

  • order counseling to non-compliant party
  • complete a parenting class
  • order the party to look for adequate work a specific number of hours weekly
  • order future hearing to ensure compliance with court order

Contempt can be openly, willfully defying an order such as refusing to pay child support. Or it can be more subtle as in bringing up non-relevant facts which the judge has stated not to be brought up in a trial hearing and the party chooses to willfully disregard. 

Two Types of Contempt

  1. Civil contempt is most often used to encourage or convince the offending party to comply with the judicial order. A court must determine the party had the ability to comply and willfully refused. Civil contempt is not a felony or misdemeanor. If a judge determines the party in contempt, sanctions may be ordered to encourage compliance such as incarceration or payment of attorney fees and court fees.
  2. Criminal contempt falls into two distinctions, direct and indirect.  Direct criminal contempt takes place in the presence of the court when a party disregards the court order. Indirect criminal contempt takes place outside of the court with the offending party in non-compliance of the court order. In contrast to civil contempt, it is used in a court to punish the non-compliant party.

Another distinction between civil and criminal contempt is that criminal contempt will result in some form of punishment. With civil contempt, a person may purge his contempt to avoid further punishment by complying with the judge’s order in order to fulfill a specific obligation, as in paying back child support before a certain date. 

Both civil and criminal contempt require sworn testimony in a court. Evidence of the contempt must be presented in a court setting for a judge to examine and come to a decision.

At Hunter Law, our experienced family law attorneys are here to help you with all of your concerns and questions regarding contempt and how to file a motion in the state of Florida. We are honored and happy to assist and represent you through this often stressful time period.  We will offer our expertise and our knowledge of how to go through this process with confidence and wisdom knowing someone is fighting for your rights.

If you’re having a family law issue related to Contempt, please contact us today to schedule a legal consultation.

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