"In Contempt": What Does This Mean in Family Court?

Contempt Court orders that determine parenting arrangements after a divorce are serious documents. In order to maintain stability for children after parents split, strict adherence to these court orders is vital. When one or both parents violate a court order, it can create an atmosphere of uncertainty for children and throw a family’s schedule and normal functioning into chaos. 

In order to prevent further unrest, some turn to contempt proceedings in an effort to force the other parent to follow the court order. 

What is contempt of court?

Georgia law allows parents to file contempt actions to address non-compliance issues such as failure to pay child support and failure to follow the child visitation guidelines. Parents can seek contempt actions for failure to comply with the terms laid out in the Order of the Court.

There are two different types of contempt of court: criminal and civil. Criminal contempt generally addresses conduct that has been defiant or disrespectful of court authority. Criminal contempt can also apply to conduct that disrupts normal court proceedings. Punishment for criminal contempt is punitive in nature, meaning that it aims to deter future instances of criminal contempt. 

When could a parent be considered in contempt of a court order? 

To be in contempt of court, first, there must be a court order in effect. In order to hold someone in contempt of violating a court order, you must prove that the other person’s behavior in not following the court order is willful and intentional. If a person’s failure to follow a court order is due to circumstances beyond his or her control (i.e., involuntary job loss) the Court will not hold that person in willful contempt.

If you are owed child support payments, our Georgia child support attorneys can represent you and help you obtain all past-due payments by attaching wages, seizing property or intercepting tax refunds.  If you are behind in child support payments, otherwise known as “arrears”, you may need immediate representation in negotiating a payment plan or modification to your court order. If you are experiencing a significant change in circumstances that affects your ability to meet your child support obligations, you may be eligible for a post-judgment modification. 

If the other parent is intentionally not following the parenting terms in the court order, we can help you enforce your custodial rights and get reimbursed for your legal fees!

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