Contempt & Enforcement
What if your former spouse or partner doesn’t follow the terms of a court order or written settlement agreement? Can they be held in contempt? Can they be forced to comply? This is a confusing area of the law. In general, a person can only be held in CONTEMPT of court for failing to pay court-ordered support to a child or a spouse …or for violating a Court Order in the presence of the Court, of course. For all other non-support related matters, a MOTION FOR ENFORCEMENT is the only way to seek compliance with the agreement or Order. In family law cases, the failure to pay child support or spousal support (alimony) may result in a finding of Contempt. A finding of Contempt may result in the imposition of fines or even incarceration. To find someone in Contempt of Court, there must first be a violation of a valid Court Order and a finding that the violation was willful and intentional. The person who is alleged to have violated the Court Order must be given notice of the hearing date and time and must be advised in the notice that a finding of contempt may result in his or her incarceration.
Any other failure to comply with a Court Order or written Agreement must be remedied by the filing of a MOTION FOR ENFORCEMENT. The Court may Order the party to comply with the agreement or Order or Agreement, but any other remedy such as an award of attorneys fees incurred in preparing and presenting the Motion for Enforcement must, in most cases, be provided for in the Original Agreement or Order before the Court can award them for a violation.