Contempt Issues

Going through a divorce can be a very difficult and emotionally draining task, so most people expect to get their lives back on track once the court has entered a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.  While one should be able to expect that their former spouse will follow the court order it doesn’t always happen that way.  When your former spouse fails, or refuses, to do what he or she is required to do under the court order – the next step is usually initiating a Motion for Contempt and Enforcement.

While you can file the Motion for Contempt as a pro se party, it is advisable to hire a Florida Family Law attorney like New Horizons Law, P.A., and Michael J. Costantino, Esq. who is well-versed with the requirements of preparing and filing such a motion.  A motion for contempt needs to clearly state what the other party failed to do and which part of the court order is alleged to have been violated.  It also needs to be notarized and New Horizons Law, P.A., and Michael J. Costantino, Esq. has a notary on staff.

Although New Horizons Law, P.A., and Michael J. Costantino, Esq. hopes that when he is successful in obtaining a Final Judgment that his client’s life will resume back to normal,  it is quite common that the client will call and complain that their ex-spouse has not paid child support or alimony or is not following the parenting  plan or has violated some other provision of the order.  Sometimes New Horizons Law, P.A., and Michael J. Costantino, Esq. is able to contact the other spouse (or his or her attorney if represented by counsel) and quickly rectify the issue without having to file a motion, pay court filing fees and costs, or prepare the motion.  On the other hand, New Horizons Law, P.A., and Michael J. Costantino, Esq. has a significant amount of experience with formally conducting a contempt and enforcement hearing in front of a Family Law Judge.

In order to held in civil contempt, the Family Law Judge must determine that the Final Judgment was clearly drafted and placed the former spouse on notice as to the order required him or her to do.  Then the court must determine whether the individual had the ability to obey the order and refused.   For example, if the order requires the other person to pay a specific amount of child support, a defense for non-payment could be that the company that this individual worked for closed their doors without notice and didn’t pay your former spouse for the previous couple of weeks.  Although this child support arrearage would remain in place, the court would be unable to determine that the individual intentionally and deliberately violated the court order.

A charge of civil contempt is designed to punish as well as deter the offending ex-spouse from violating the order the in the future.  The penalties for civil contempt can include being fined, being ordered to pay the other party’s attorney fees and costs, a modification of the court order that decreases or suspends rights, or even an order to attend some sort of counseling.

New Horizons Law, P.A., and Michael J. Costantino, Esq. can help you file and present four case for contempt.  If you choose to represent yourself, be careful if your ex-spouse  retains an attorney, having your own attorney could be vital to case..