contempt of court is a serious charge
what is contempt of court?
Contempt of court is punishable by imprisonment, fine or both or any other penalty deemed appropriate by the court for breach of orders.
Contempt of court is a serious charge. The court may impose a penalty of imprisonment against a person found guilty for contempt of court. Due to the harshness of the penalty sometimes a contempt of court is not the remedy that a party really needs or it may just be the solution to force a party to comply with his obligations under the order.
It is a mode of punishment for a person who circumvents the administration of justice. It is usually imposed for improper behaviour towards the court like disrespecting the judge or disrupting the proceedings. For this article the focus will be contempt of court that is imposed for violation of family court orders.
The breach of the court order must be very serious in order to warrant the punishment. It is not sufficient if the party intermittently breaches the order. The law requires something more compelling than cases of forgetfulness or simple neglect in compliance. There must be a pattern in the violations committed that is consistent and flagrant. The violation must be therefore wilful and intentionally challenges the authority of the family court that issued the order.
Parenting orders, property settlement and spousal maintenance orders, orders relative to financial cases and any other order that is issued by the court in connection to a family law case. It may be that the court will require the party to do something specific like to disclose an important document or attend mediation yet the party refuses to do so. Such party may be held liable for contempt because of his disobedience.
I want to have my ex held in contempt of court, what should I do?
First, you must think calmly and objective. Would a contempt of court be the solution to your problem? Remember that the penalties may be imprisonment, fine or both. The court may also impose other forms of appropriate penalties like community service. Having the other party imprisoned might not be wise in case, let’s say, you need him to continue working to be able to pay child support or you need him to be a nurturing parent to your child. It may be that what you need instead is to apply to the court to enforce the court order.
However, if you are really determined to have the other party held in contempt then you will need to file an application to the court. The order that is violated must be attached to the application. The applicant-party must state the specific terms in the order that were breached and in what way the breach was committed. Another significant allegation is the damage caused by the violation.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.