The Basics of Contempt In Family Law Proceedings

If your spouse is refusing to follow any of the terms of a court order, whether that be a divorce decree, custody order, temporary order, or otherwise, he or she could potentially be held in contempt of court. Your ex may be held in contempt if a judge finds they consistently refused to follow court orders. In order to find a person in contempt, you must be able to prove by clear and convincing evidence the party (1) knew what was required of him/her; (2) her/she had the ability to comply; and (3) he/she willfully and knowingly refused to comply. This is a some what high burden to meet so it is advisable to retain a competent Divorce Lawyer in Utah to help you make your case and prepare for a contempt hearing. In addition to the standard set forth above, a court may also hold a person in contempt if they have intentionally deprived them self of the means of complying with the decree. For instance, if an ex spouse who is obligated to pay child support and alimony voluntarily quits their job to try and avoid their financial obligations, they would not be able to argue they no longer had the ability to comply and a judge would like still hold them in contempt.

Failure to Pay Child Support

Failing to pay child support is one common situation where one spouse may need to seek a contempt proceeding against an ex. If a person is ordered to a certain sum of child support and he or she has the ability to pay but refuses to do so, a contempt proceeding is justified. Court’s are particularly concerned with children’s benefits and do not have much sympathy for parents who refuse to meet their child support obligations. If a parent is held in contempt for failing to pay child support, a judge may order many different types of sanctions against the party including jail time, suspending their driver’s license, issuing a judgment for back child support owed and other financial damages to the aggrieved party. While there is no specific provision for attorney fees on contempt, financial damages may still be awarded.

How to Enforce your Decree

Whether it is a divorce decree or an order of custody, or any other family related court order, you can enforce the order if the other party is not in compliance. To hold your ex in contempt you will need to file a motion for order to show cause with supporting affidavits and a proposed order. Order to Show Cause proceedings can be difficult without legal representation. The Utah Court’s do not have an online system for this procedure like they do for uncontested divorce proceedings. Thus, it is highly advisable to have a Utah Family Law Attorney represent you in this process. We have a team of experienced lawyers ready to fight for your cause and can take on the most challenging contempt issues.

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