Simply put: When the court rules on orders for your family, those orders must be followed by your family. If you or your ex-spouse do not follow those orders – which can include not paying support or alimony, breaking a restraining order, or not following the terms of a custody agreement – the non-compliant person can be found in contempt of the court, which is a charge that can have serious implications. If you need to change an existing order, the best thing to do is to consult your lawyer about filing for a modification, as explained above.
Basic Process of Finding A Person In Contempt
Typically finding a person in contempt starts with contacting them in an attempt to resolve the issue. Engaging a lawyer can help you ensure you are engaging in a productive way that will do one of two things: keep you out of court or, if the situation can’t be resolved this way, prepare the way to taking that person to court.
Next the offended party makes a request to the court for help with enforcing the order. The court will usually give the non-complying person a period of time to come into compliance with the orders in question. If that person continues to refuse to comply with the orders, the court can then set a hearing for them to show cause for why they have not complied. The offended person may then request that the non-compliant person be found in contempt, or the judge can make that decision.
Document the Behavior to Demonstrate Non-Compliance
In most family cases, non-compliance issues are usually minor and don’t require legal intervention. However, regardless of how minor a situation may seem, it’s best to get legal advice. Sometimes allowing even small violations to continue undocumented and unreported, or at least without objection, can be considered a waiver of your right to object.
When a serious violation occurs, it’s especially important to document the behavior and inform the court of the situation as quickly as possible. The courts usually don’t react immediately to bad behavior or a refusal to comply, unless it can be demonstrated that the behavior is repeated and continuing, or that you or your children may be harmed in some way. Showing a history of the behavior or non-compliance, with dates and specific details, will help you make and support your case in court.