America’s law system is complex at best, so if you currently have some type of enforceable court order with a spouse or ex-spouse, it’s important to understand the signs and implications of contempt of court. You want to make sure that you don’t accidentally find yourself in contempt of court, and you need to be prepared to act if the other person involved commits contempt.

Defining Contempt of Court

Contempt of court is any violation of a family law court order, such as a court order for child support, spousal support, child custody, child visitation, and splitting of assets. Contempt is named as such because it is seen as a willful disregard or of disrespect for the authority of a court of law. In family court, contempt most commonly occurs in the form of failure to pay child support or follow a custody order.

Responding to Contempt of Court

If contempt of court has been committed that impacts you, such as not receiving child support that you rely upon to pay bills, you can seek enforcement. Enforcement is the process of the court placing rulings in place that punish the person responsible for contempt. In the case of failure to pay child support, the solution is often to garnish that person’s wages or seize bank accounts if payments cannot be brought current. In difficult custody situations in which one parent does not follow the court’s custody plan, that parent risks going to jail or paying a hefty fine.

Real Life Examples

A Colorado State Representative recently made headlines when he was held in contempt of court for violating the judge’s orders regarding school decisions for his children. His ex–wife demanded enforcement, and the court sentenced Rep. Tim Leonard to 14 days in jail for his contempt. Many others have stumbled across the same problems as they try to manage divorce, custody arrangements, and other complicated issues.