What The Heck is Series-Part 1 What the Heck is Contempt of Court?

What The Heck Is?

A Series… If you find yourself pulled into the legal life of getting a divorce, you will more than likely be faced with terminology that you are not familiar with. That was the case for me; I found myself ignorant of many facts and terms that I needed to become familiar with. With that in mind, I ask the question…..”What The Heck is Contempt of Court?”

First, let’s take a look at the definition of Contempt of Court…Here is a quote from a Charlotte Divorce Attorney blog.

The phrase “contempt of court” is a legal term used to describe situations when an individual intentionally refuses or fails to obey a legally-binding court order issued by a family court. In North Carolina, you can be held in contempt for violating the following court orders

*Child custody
*Child support
*Spousal support (alimony)
*Visitation or time-sharing order
*Domestic violence restraining order

My attorney told me that if I did not receive payments on my alimony that I had every right to hold my ex in contempt.  She told me she would be glad to bring him before the court for any such violation. 

There are two types of Contempt of Court. The first is called Criminal Contempt. According to Rodriguez and Gimbert, here is the definition of criminal contempt of court…What is contempt of court? In court proceedings, the judge determines the type of conduct that can happen in the courtroom. If a person disobeys these rules, the judge can hold them in contempt of court. These guidelines apply to every individual present during the trial, including attorneys, witnesses, jurors, and staff.” This type of contempt occurs during the court proceedings in the courtroom. 

The second type of contempt is called Civil Contempt. This is where a person refuses to follow a court order.  This one is the one you typically deal with in relation to divorce. 

Contempt of court is taken seriously in the court system.  A person in contempt could even face jail time.

I know of one case where an ex-husband nearly faced the court system for refusing to pay alimony on time.  This couple had been married for decades.  The husband left, not caring if the woman could care for herself or not.  They went through the court system, and she was awarded alimony. The ex had been paying the alimony on time for several years, and suddenly, a payment was missed.  The wife contacted him asking where the money was.  He said he was not going to pay it until he returned from his honeymoon.  WHAT?  That did not cut it for the wife she immediately called her attorney, who said if he does not pay, she would charge him with contempt. The ex-wife then notified the ex-husband of her intent, and somehow he managed to pay her that day. The audacity, right?

If you find yourself on the other side of the divorce process and you have been awarded something from the court, you do have recourse if your ex refuses to comply.  You can have your attorney charge him with contempt. 

I hope you are doing well. 

God Bless You on This Journey!