What Is Contempt Of Court In Family Law?
While a family court is a court within the civil court system (in contrast to the criminal court system), when a family court issues an order, the person named in the order is required under law to fulfill the obligations of the order. For example, if a court orders a person to pay child support and they fail to do so, they are in direct violation of a court order and can be penalized as such.
One such penalty for violating a family court order is being held in contempt of court. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Wilmington family lawyers at the law office of the Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division to learn more, and consider the following about what you should know about contempt of court in a family law case in North Carolina:
What Is Civil Contempt of Court?
If a party does not fulfill their family court order, the affected party can file a motion to hold the party in default in civil contempt of court. Such an order may be filed when a party fails to comply with a court order in regards to:
- Child custody;
- Child support;
- Spousal maintenance/alimony;
- Property division;
- Any other family law matter.
The purpose of filing a civil contempt order is to force a delinquent party to comply with the order.
Punishment for Civil Contempt of Court
The purpose of holding someone in civil contempt of court is not necessarily to punish the defendant, but instead to ensure that they comply with the court order. While a person may be incarcerated for up to 90 days initially (and up to one year per North Carolina Statute Section 5A-21, typically, a judge will order payment of any unpaid benefits (child support, alimony, etc.) or garnishment of wages, or take action to require the defendant to comply with the original court order.
In some cases, a person who is in violation of a court order could be held in criminal contempt of court, although a person cannot be found in criminal contempt for the same conduct that landed them in civil contempt. If a person is found in criminal contempt, they may be ordered to pay a fine and may be subject to incarceration.
Filing a Contempt Motion
If your ex-spouse is in violation of a court order, you do not merely have to accept the default. Instead, you have the right to take steps to enforce the court order, including filing a contempt motion with the court and serving the defendant with the motion. In order to ensure that your motion of contempt is filed accurately, it is best to work with a qualified lawyer who has experience managing contempt of court cases. In addition to filing a contempt motion, an attorney can also help you to understand the other options you have for enforcing a court order.
Call Our Family Lawyers Today
To learn more about how our family lawyers at the office of Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division can help, please call us today or send us a message. We know how emotional and complex family law matters can be, and want to provide you with the representation you deserve.
Call today! (910) 769-7339
Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division
300 N. 3rd St. Suite 310
Wilmington, NC 28401