To understand the basics of contempt of court charges, it is helpful to know what contempt of court means. Contempt of court is a legal term that refers to any behavior that defies or disobeys a court order, shows disrespect for the court, or interferes with its orderly process. It can be classified as direct or indirect. Direct contempt occurs in the presence of the court, while indirect contempt happens outside of it.
In family law cases, contempt of court can arise when one party fails to comply with a court order related to child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, or other matters. In this blog post, we will explore the basics of contempt of court and how it relates to family law.
Types of Contempt
There are two types of contempt: civil and criminal. Civil contempt often involves the failure of someone to comply with a court order. Judges use remedial sanctions to encourage such a person into compliance. This could include fines or even jail time until they comply with the order.
Criminal contempt involves behavior that is disruptive or disrespectful towards the court itself. This could include things like yelling at a judge or refusing to follow courtroom rules. The punishment for criminal contempt can include fines and imprisonment.
Examples of Contempt in Family Law Cases
Contempt can occur in various ways in family law cases. Here are some examples:
- Failure to pay child support: If one parent fails to pay child support as ordered by the court, they may be held in contempt.
- Failure to comply with visitation orders: If one parent refuses to allow visitation as ordered by the court, they may be held in contempt.
- Refusal to turn over property: If one spouse refuses to turn over property awarded by the court during divorce proceedings, they may be held in contempt.
- Disobedience during hearings: If a party becomes disruptive during a hearing or disobeys courtroom rules, they may be held in contempt.
Consequences of Contempt
The consequences for being found guilty of contempt vary depending on whether it is civil or criminal and what type of behavior led to it. For civil contempt, judges typically use remedial sanctions such as fines or imprisonment until compliance is achieved.
For criminal contempt, judges have more discretion when it comes to punishment. They may impose fines or imprisonment without any chance for release until compliance is achieved. This is why it is important to consult with a local divorce lawyer in Hartselle, or anywhere else in Alabama, if you are considering filing for contempt or if you are facing such charges.
Defenses Against Contempt Charges
If you are facing charges for contempt of court in a family law case, there are several defenses available:
- Lack of knowledge: If you were not aware that your actions violated a court order due to poor communication from your attorney or other factors beyond your control.
- Inability: If you were physically unable to comply with an order due to illness or injury.
- Good faith effort: If you made reasonable efforts but were still unable to comply with an order due circumstances beyond your control.
- Changed circumstances: If there have been significant changes since an order was issued that make compliance impossible.
It’s important that you work closely with your Huntsville divorce attorney if you are facing charges for contempt so that you can build a strong defense based on your specific situation.
Contempt of court is not something that should be taken lightly in family law cases. It’s important that all parties involved understand their obligations under any orders issued by the courts and take necessary steps towards compliance.
If you find yourself facing charges for contempt related issues within family law cases then working closely with an experienced divorce attorney in Decatur, or wherever you reside, will help ensure that your rights are protected throughout this process.
Attorney Steven A. Harris regularly blogs in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, probate, and real estate closings on this website. Mr. Harris tries to provide informative information to the public in easily digestible formats. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and feel free to supply feedback. We appreciate our readers & love to hear from you!