Sometimes, the end of a case does not mean the end of a dispute between two individuals. After a family law case, whether it be a divorce, paternity action, or complaint for custody-support-visitation, there will be a judgment that sets forth obligations for each individual. If one or more of these obligations are not fulfilled, the aggrieved individual may file a Complaint for Contempt. These cases are frequently filed for issues such as nonpayment of child support or alimony, or violating a custodial arrangement. A Complaint for Contempt may sometimes be filed for violating the judgment on a prior contempt proceeding, as long as that judgment is still in effect.
A contempt case is similar to other family law cases, although a pre-trial conference is not generally scheduled. Once a date is set by the court, the aggrieved individual must prove that there has been a violation of a clear and unambiguous court order. The contempt may be a civil contempt, where the hope is to force compliance with the court order, or a criminal contempt, where the hope is to punish the individual who is violating the court order.
A contempt trial may be done as an evidentiary hearing, or “on representation”, which means obviates the need to introduce too much evidence. If you have a court order that is being violated, or have been served with a Complaint for Contempt, it is important to know what to expect. In some cases, if the defendant is found to be in contempt, he or she will be responsible for paying the attorney fees of the opposing party, or even sentenced to a term in jail.
To learn about your options, call the attorneys at Finn & Eaton, P.C. at (781) 484-1066 or email us to schedule a free one-hour consultation.