Contempt – A Remedy for Non-Compliance

divorce lawyer

Contempt of Court

Finding a four leaf clover. Seeing a double rainbow. Enjoying a clean break from your Ex. Sure all of these things exist, but actually encountering any of them is a rarity (and apparently pretty freaking mind blowing if you take that YouTube dude’s word for it). Some people look at a divorce differently from a high school break-up and assume that despite all of the bickering (and mud slinging and threats and borderline stalking), once a final judgment is entered, it’s game over. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble but you know that old saying “a leopard can’t change his spots”? If your former soul mate is a narcissistic, tantrum throwing *&#$!; chances are expecting him or her to fully comply with your divorce decree is as wise a strategy as the Ravens head office has for next season.


Contempt Definition

If you are wondering what the heck you just spent all of your time and money on to get to the point of a final judgment, step away from the railing. Having a skilled divorce attorney in your corner will ensure that your interests are protected as much as possible. Alternatively, if you decided to retain your sister’s neighbors cousin who gave you a deal because he primarily practices insurance defense and “likes a challenge”, at least you have contempt as a remedy for non-compliance. Civil sanctions can be used to compel compliance with a court order or to compensate a moving party for losses sustained as a result of a contemnor’s willful failure to comply with a court order while criminal sanctions intended to punish an offender or to vindicate the authority of the court (think that scene from My Cousin Vinny). Debts not involving support cannot be resolved via this enforcement tool. 

Several requirements must be met before finding a person in contempt for failing to obey a court order. First, the order giving rise to to the action must be one which clearly and definitely makes the person aware of its command. Secondly, the trial court must find that the person has the ability to comply with the court order. Finally, where the court imposes a coercive fine, the court must consider the financial resources of the contemnor in setting the amount of the fine. As previously noted, it is extremely important to have a knowledgeable attorney well versed in the area of Family Law to lessen the possibility of future issues stemming from the outcome of your original proceeding.

The best family lawyers know how imperative it is that you put whatever drama you are facing behind you and use contempt as a tool to resolve lingering issues. As Tupac once said, “you can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened… or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the f–k on.”