In general, anyone who willfully disobeys a court order may be found in contempt of court. For instance, let’s assume a family law order indicates that your ex-spouse is to move out of the family residence, but your ex-spouse has repeatedly said he or she is not moving and he or she does not care what the court ordered. This can be a situation in which you file a contempt action.
If a person is found in contempt of court, there are several consequences, which may include payment of a fine, payment of attorney fees, an order to perform community service, or, at the very worst, an order to be imprisoned. In order to move forward with a contempt proceeding, the paperwork needs to be very clear and specific. There are four components to a contempt action against an ex-spouse. The elements are: (1) a valid prior order, (2) knowledge of the order, (3) ability to comply with the order, and (4) willful failure to comply with the court order. These elements must all be present and made very clear to the court in order to be successful.
If the above elements are not present, the ex-spouse can file a Motion for Discharge and the contempt will not move forward.
Please contact our office if you have any questions about the benefits of filing a contempt action against an opposing party.