Contempt is the failure to comply with a court order. There are two types of contempt: civil contempt and criminal contempt. The purpose of civil contempt is to force a person to comply with a court order. To be found in civil contempt, there must be a valid court order that remains in force, the purpose of the order may still be served by compliance, the noncompliance was fitful, meaning deliberate and intentional, and the noncomplying party is able to comply with the order or is able to take reasonable measure to comply.
An example of civil contempt is a party failing to pay court-ordered child support when he or she has the ability to do so. If a person is found in contempt, he or she can be imprisoned until they comply with the order. A judge will not hold a party in contempt if they are unable to pay the amount due, however, if a party has assets that can be liquidated, that is enough for the court to determine that the party had the ability to pay.
A contempt order must contain a purge provision, which explains the action or monetary payment that a party is required how a person found in contempt can remove themselves from the contempt. If a party can no longer afford the child support amount they are ordered to pay, he or she should consider filing a motion to modify the monthly child support obligation based on the substantial change in their financial circumstances. If the opposing party in your case has failed to pay the child support amount they are ordered to pay, you should speak with a family law attorney to discuss filing a motion for contempt and ask the judge to issue a show cause order.
Overall, failing to pay the court-ordered child support payments is serious, and can lead to a court finding you in civil contempt, where you face the possibility of jail time. If you find yourself in a position where you can no longer afford the monthly child-support obligation, or if the opposing party in your case has failed to pay their monthly obligation of child support, you may want to speak with an experienced family law attorney to advise you on the next steps you should take.
If you or someone you know may have a situation where any of the above-mentioned situations are involved, contact Hatcher Law Group for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to understanding your rights and options moving forward.