Contempt Actions in Family Law
If a Court order has been issued and either party does not comply with a Court order, whether it be a temporary court order or a judgment, the judge has the authority to enforce his or her ruling by finding said party “in contempt.” If found in contempt, the party is subject to various penalties at the judge’s discretion for not abiding by the previous court orders.
The judge can impose penalties on parties held in contempt that can include financial penalties (i.e. paying for the other party’s legal fees), custodial penalties (i.e. restrictions or loss of physical and/or legal custody) as well as jail time. In Family Court, these penalties are usually less punitive and more remedial, focusing on compelling the defendant to comply with the order. Examples of failing to comply with an order include failure to pay child support or alimony, failure to adhere to visitation schedules, and failure to transfer property or other assets.