Understanding Motions of Contempt

It is not uncommon to see a judge on a TV show threaten someone with being “held in contempt of court.” While it does make for some good entertainment, motions of contempt are all too real and need to be taken extremely seriously. Simply put, being held in contempt of court is the charge issued when you fail to comply with their orders. Read on to get a better understanding of motions of contempt and how they can impact your case. 

Causes for Contempt of Court

Being found in contempt of court can happen for a variety of reasons. The most common causes for someone being found in contempt of court will vary depending on the legal situation that you are in. In a family law situation, common reasons why someone is charged with contempt of court include:

  • Child Support – If you don’t pay your child support as ordered, the opposing party may file a motion of contempt.
  • Following Parenting Time Schedule – When one parent refuses to return the child to the other parent according to the parenting time order, that may result in being in contempt of court.
  • Failure to Comply with Divorce Settlement – If a divorce agreement states that a specific piece of property goes to your ex, but you refuse to give it, this could result in being in contempt.

In other types of cases, contempt can be caused by violating the direct and clear instructions of the court. If you have a restraining order filed against you, for example, coming into contact with the other party could result in being held in contempt.

Potential Penalties

If you are found to be in contempt of court, the judge has quite a few options when it comes to the penalties they can issue. In most cases, the judge will look at the specifics of the situation and attempt to issue a penalty that will motivate the person held in contempt to comply. Options include ordering immediate payment of money owed, ordering the sale or liquidation of an asset, suspending a driver’s license, garnishing wages, or even jail time.

We are Here to Help

If you have had a motion of contempt filed against you, or you wish to file a motion against another party, you need to take the legal situation seriously. Having an experienced attorney will help to ensure everything is handled properly, and your legal rights are protected. Please contact us to discuss your options today.

Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.