What does it mean to be “held in contempt” by the court?

Contempt is a tool used by Probate and Family Courts to enforce compliance with court orders.

In the event one party is not following a court-appointed order, the other party can file a Complaint for Contempt with the court. This process requires the initiating party to show that the other party (the defendant) is in willful violation of a clear and unequivocal order.

Someone who violates or disobeys a court order risks being held in contempt by the court. Such violations may include failing to pay alimony or child support or refusal to comply with a parenting schedule ordered by the court. To the extent that a party is adjudicated in Contempt by the court, the offending party may also be ordered by the court to pay the legal fees and costs of the aggrieved party.

There are two types of contempt, civil and criminal. The purpose of civil contempt is to act as a remedial step in enforcing compliance with a court order. A criminal contempt, on the other hand, is a tool to punish the defiant party. Someone found guilty of criminal contempt may face jail time.

Either party can file a complaint for contempt to address non-compliance with any court order, including temporary orders and final judgments.

Whether you wish to file a Complaint for Contempt or have been served with notice of a hearing, our office can assist you in court. Contact us today to discuss your legal rights.

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