When the court orders someone to do (or stop doing) something and that person ignores the order, they are considered to be in contempt of court. While courtroom dramas on TV often show people being held in contempt in criminal cases, contempt is actually far more common in civil actions, especially in family law cases.
If the court is accusing you of contempt for failure to pay child support or another issue, it is wise to take prompt defensive action. A contempt lawyer at Tessie D. Edwards & Associates can protect your rights and fight contempt charges or work to help you minimize the negative consequences. We can also assist if you want to petition the court to enforce an order and hold another party in contempt.
A Violation Must be Willful to Be Contempt
In order for someone to be liable for contempt of court, the violation of the court’s order must be proven to be deliberate and willful. That means it can be possible to fight a contempt allegation by showing that outside causes made it difficult or impossible to comply with a court order.
For instance, if a parent is alleged to be in contempt for failure to allow visitation on a particular occasion, a contempt lawyer could present evidence to show how an emergency prevented that parent from bringing a child to the meeting point as prescribed in the visitation plan.
Common Instances Where Contempt is Alleged in Family Law Cases
Although a failure to comply with any agreement that is made part of a court’s judgement can provide grounds for contempt, contempt is usually alleged in certain common situations in Georgia. These include:
- Failure to pay alimony or child support
- Failure to pay attorney’s fees
- Failure to surrender property or allow access to property
- Failure to provide healthcare benefits after being ordered to do so
- Failure to follow orders for custody or visitation
- Failure to sign documents to allow for the transfer of property pursuant to a divorce
Contempt can make the accused person liable for sanctions in addition to the underlying obligation, so it is wise to take action to refute the allegations or purge the violation to keep negative consequences from continuing to accrue.
A Contempt Lawyer Can Help You Reach a Positive Outcome in Your Case
While it can be tempting to ignore allegations of contempt, it is one problem that can be easier to remedy if addressed quickly. You may be able to present valid reasons to show why your failure to comply was not willful, but the longer you delay in presenting those reasons, the less convincing they become.
If you are facing accusations of contempt or want to enforce a court order that is being ignored in a family law case, contact Tessie D. Edwards & Associates to find out how we could work to reach the best available outcome in your case.