Filing a contempt of court motion can be a major and severe legal action, one that can have serious consequences for your ex-spouse. It can worsen an already hostile situation. Therefore, it is necessary to determine whether you should proceed with filing for contempt of court.
Criteria for Filing for Contempt of Court
There are several criteria that must be met before a contempt of court citation can be filed. Ask the following questions:
- Is the person still bound by the terms of the court-ordered directive? If the time period for compliance has expired, then the person is no longer bound by those terms, and therefore, you cannot use contempt to enforce the order.
- Is the other person aware of the court order? Has the person received a copy of the court order, or was he present when the court order was signed? Notice of an order must be provided and in the absence of a proper notice, the court may not entertain a contempt motion.
- Have you complied with the provisions of the court order yourself? There may be parts of the agreement that you may have to perform according to the court directive, before the other person fulfills his part of the agreement. Check whether you have fulfilled your part of the deal before you file for contempt of court.
- Had the other person been made fully aware of his responsibilities in relation to the court order? If he’s not aware of his responsibilities, then a contempt of court is not warranted.
- Do you have evidence that the other person did, in fact, violate the order? If you do not have sufficient proof that he was in violation, or are not able to present proof in court that was in violation, then it may be best to avoid a contempt of court action.
- Does the other person have a plausible reason for his behavior? If the other person can provide a reason for his non-compliance, then your contempt action may be unsuccessful.
There are other alternatives besides a contempt of court action that you can explore to ensure compliance with the court order.
You can demand that the other party complies with the agreement, by sending him or her a personal letter in which you clearly ask him or her to explain the violations in compliance with the court order.
Alternatively, your attorney could draft a demand letter, which explains the violations, and requests that the person comply with the court order.
If the issue has to do with the noncompliance of your parenting plan, mediation can help.
If the noncompliance has to do with child support payments, contact your local Child-Support Registry for help.
Contempt of court matters can be quite complicated, contact our family law attorneys to discuss your unique situation. Call 303-956-3580 to talk to an attorney today. Free consultation.