A family law judge can issue a contempt of court order against someone who wilfully violates a valid court order. This includes spousal support orders, child custody and visitation orders, restraining order violations and more.
The process of filing a contempt of court in family law involves a legal document called an Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Contempt. If you are accused of disobeying a court order, you need the help of an experienced lawyer.
1. Filing a Motion
If you are involved in a divorce or family law case in California and one party wilfully ignores an order of the court, you may be able to file a motion for contempt. The motion can be based on anything from failure to pay child support or hand over children to the other party according to a court-approved parenting plan, to failure to answer discovery questions and provide certain documents in response to a request for disclosure.
A person who is convicted of family law contempt is subject to county jail time and a fine for each act of contempt that is found. The length of the jail sentence and the amount of the fine will vary depending on the circumstances.
If you are facing a contempt charge, it is always a good idea to talk to an experienced family lawyer. They can help you file the necessary paperwork, serve the other party and prepare for a hearing at the court.
2. Serving the Other Party
A contempt of court case is filed by one party alleging that the other party has wilfully disobeyed a court order. This can be a child support order, spousal support or a restraining order.
The other party must be served with the documents that you file, usually by mail or e-service. In most cases, you’ll need to serve a Notice of Hearing and an Affidavit for Contempt.
Several courts in California allow a litigating party to file a contempt of court for repeated failure to make child support payments on time. The statute of limitations is three years from the date of the missed payment, and each missing payment can be filed separately.
If you are facing a contempt of court family law california case, you should seek legal counsel before filing to understand your options and find the best path to resolution.
3. Filing an Affidavit for Contempt
If a person willfully disobeys a court order during or after a divorce, they may be held in contempt of court. This can happen in a variety of ways, including failing to pay child support, refusing to meet custody or visitation requirements or refusing to pay attorney fees as part of a divorce agreement.
California law allows a judge to design many different types of orders when a defendant is found in civil contempt of court. These orders can include monetary fines and penalties, restraining orders, awarding custody to the other party, garnishing wages, placing liens on property, ordering payment of opposing party attorney fees and more.
A person who is cited in a family law case must be given notice of the charges, an opportunity to be heard and an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. These rights are guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the California State Constitution.
4. Filing a Notice of Hearing
If you feel that your ex-spouse or co-parent is intentionally failing to follow a court order, you may need to file contempt of court. This is a serious matter, and you need to speak with a Family lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your options.
Typically, California family law cases that are filed for contempt involve one party intentionally violating another party’s court order. This can include failure to pay child support or alimony, breaching visitation rights, failing to deliver property, and more.
When filing for contempt, it is important to ensure that all the proper documents are in place. This includes an affidavit for contempt and an order to show cause (Judicial Council Form FL-410 or FL-412).