Post-Divorce Matters: Landing in Contempt of Court
Following a divorce settlement, whether intentional or unintentional, an ex-spouse can find themselves in contempt of court if they violate any part of the court order. This is a serious matter and can result in civil or criminal penalties. Even if the divorce proceedings were amicable with little to no bumps along the way, landing in contempt of court can lead to various consequences.
When the divorce decree is finalized, there may be requirements pertaining to child custody or visitation rights, child support or alimony, the sale of a home, division of assets, and payment of debts. If any of the requirements are not met, either party can file a motion to hold the ex-spouse in contempt of court.
There can be varying circumstances why someone may avoid or delay following a court order. Even if the two parties have maintained a good relationship post-divorce, things can get tricky as time ticks away and suddenly these demands are not met in a timely fashion. Again, the question remains: is it willful or unintentional? At what point do you go from working things out on your own to contacting your attorney?
To be found in contempt of court, it must be proven that:
- The party knew the order existed
- Had the ability to abide by the order but violated the conditions knowingly
- Lacks just cause or excuse for the violation
For example, if your ex-spouse failed to follow through with child visitation rights simply because you both had an argument the day before, you could speak with your attorney to determine if they could be held in contempt of court. However, if you don’t have evidence to back up your allegations, it can get difficult when filing a motion.
Ultimately, the court would like to assume that following a final divorce decree, both parties will comply with the orders. In the real world though, there are many situations where this simply doesn’t happen. Having the right attorney to assist you when these complications arise can help in ensuring that your rights are being met.
Please contact us if you would like to discuss your divorce settlement and how we can help navigate your post-divorce matters. At Wagstaff, we have a deep understanding of the nuances surrounding motions of contempt and our legal team is ready to answer any of these questions.