Understanding Motions of Contempt

If you fail to comply with a court order, you can be held in contempt of court. In family law, a motion of contempt is a request to the court to enforce the terms of a prior court order for issues with things like spousal support, child support, and visitation. Here is everything you need to know about these motions in Florida.

The Basic Rules

Motions of contempt can be caused as a result of either a person’s action or inaction. The basic rules are:

  • There must be a clear and understandable court order in existence
  • The defendant has failed to comply with the court order
  • The petitioner has tried to encourage compliance, for example by sending a simple letter
  • The defendant has the ability to comply with the court order but has intentionally refused to comply

You can usually find a self-help form for family law cases containing a generic “Motion for…” which can be converted into a motion for contempt. Some of the most common grounds for filing a motion of contempt include:

  • Failing to pay court-ordered child support
  • Failing to pay court-ordered spousal support
  • Not returning the child to the other parent as per the visitation schedule
  • Denying the other parent access to the child as indicated in the parenting schedule

Proving Contempt In Court

To prove contempt in family court, you must show the existence of a valid court order written and signed by the judge. You must then prove that the other party was aware of this court order. This can be done by showing that they were present when the order was being issued, that the order was served to them, and that they have complied with it for some time before suddenly stopping.

Next, you must prove that the defendant had the capacity to comply with the court order. This element is not applicable to child support cases. Lastly, you need to establish that the other person purposely refused to comply with the court order.

What Can the Judge Do?

  1. Order the other party to immediately make the required payment
  2. Send the offending party to jail
  3. Order the sale or liquidation of assets to satisfy the order. These assets must be identified and shown to the judge
  4. Suspend the non-complying party’s professional licenses such as driving license
  5. Issue a garnishment or Income Deduction Order, which allows automatic debit from the noncomplying party’s payroll check

If you need an attorney to help you with your case, the Law Office of Ray Garcia, P.A. has got you covered. Get in touch today.