Any time the court issues orders either during proceedings or as part of the final order, those orders are legally binding and all parties are expected to comply. If a party fails to comply with the order, especially if it was willful disobedience, a petition for contempt of court can be filed which will impose consequences on the party who didn’t comply with the orders.
A contempt action is a delicate matter with serious consequences which needs to be handled with expertise and care. Skilled Tempe contempt of court lawyer Adriana Blanchette of Blanchette Law PLLC will carefully review your case and guide you with the best course of action to enforce orders, including filing a petition for contempt. Call (602) 881-1748 to schedule your consultation today.
In the meantime, continue reading to learn more about contempt and whether it’s appropriate for your case and what to do if a contempt petition has been filed against you.
Any order made by a family law judge or any agreement that was filed with the court and signed by the judge mandates that all parties abide by that decision, regardless if it’s an order for custody or parenting time, child support or spousal support, or anything else. One of the most common reasons a contempt action is filed is failure to pay support.
Contempt actions are considered semi-criminal because they have civil and criminal penalties. Consequences of being found in contempt can include:
Although any order can be violated, the most common violations that may be the subject of a contempt action include:
In order to successfully prove contempt, the party filing for contempt must prove the following, some which are easier than others. Evidence of each of these factors should be gathered before filing for contempt.
This is the easiest of the three criteria to prove. For example, if the support order was part of an agreement reached between the two parties, they would have signed the agreement before the judge did, or the agreement was read onto the record in court and confirmed by the court. If the judge made the orders in court at a hearing where the other party was present, they knew of the orders
It can be more difficult to prove knowledge of the order when the order was mailed by an attorney or the court because it’s difficult to prove that they actually received it, or that they read it if they did. However, if there were multiple orders made at once and they’re abiding by other aspects of the order, it’s safe to say that they had knowledge of the order.
Proving the capacity to comply but intentionally choosing not to can be more difficult to prove depending on the type of contempt charge that’s filed. Proving the ability to comply with a support order can be easier if the violating party has posted photos of lavish spending or vacations, yet they still refuse to pay support.
Or if there’s verifiable, properly obtained evidence which supports that they had sufficient income to pay support, but didn’t, then this element is sufficiently proven. However, failure to pay support due to losing a job could be grounds to deny a contempt filing. Proving capacity to comply in a child custody or parenting time issue can be more difficult and might require the assistance of an experienced Tempe family law attorney.
Entering an agreement or being bound by a court order is a very serious matter, and only a serious, logical excuse for non-compliance will be tolerated by the courts. As an example, not paying support because they were saving for a vacation or a car isn’t a valid excuse, but being sick and hospitalized might be.
If ever there’s a legitimate concern of being unable to comply with orders or when orders have been violated, communicating with the other party in a manner that’s approved by your court orders is a good first step toward potential compliance with the orders or gathering evidence needed to prove contempt.
When mediation or collaboration isn’t an option, attorney Adriana Blanchette will go to court to enforce the order through a contempt action. Adriana and her team will guide you through the contempt process and will be by your side every step of the way.
Proving the three required elements of contempt can be difficult, as can the filing process itself because filing a petition for contempt is like filing a brand new case. Here’s a basic overview of the steps for filing a contempt to review while you prepare for your consultation with Blanchette Law PLLC.
Read and reread your orders to be absolutely certain that an order or orders have been violated. In doing so, review the manner in which the order was made–was it a signed agreement? Were both parties present when the orders were made in court?
Although you can represent yourself in a contempt action, hiring an experienced Tempe contempt attorney increases your chances of a successful petition because there are a lot of important factors and information that may impact your chances of success. Often, the offending party is required to pay the reasonable attorney’s fees if the contempt petition is successful.
The purpose of filing for contempt is to get compliance with the court orders. In some circumstances, enforcement can be achieved through mediation or settlement negotiations when working with a certified mediator or an advocate of collaborative resolutions like Adriana Blanchette.
Sometimes simply showing the other party that you’re willing to go to court with a letter or notice of your intent to file a petition for contempt is enough to get them to comply; the letter is often more successful when it comes from an experienced attorney.
While sending a warning letter first is a great idea, settlement isn’t possible in every case. If you’ve done all you can to resolve the issue outside of court but have been unsuccessful, then filing a contempt action and obtaining a hearing date may be necessary. It’s important that the contempt is filed in the same court that issued the order.
The offending party must be formally notified of the filed contempt action via personal service of the petition, notice of the hearing date, and any other supplemental documents that were filed with the petition or that support the petition.
Both parties, the accuser and the accused, must attend the hearing. The judge will allow each party equal time to prove their case either in favor of or in opposition to the contempt by presenting evidence and calling witnesses. After considering the arguments of both sides, the judge will decide if there was contempt and any appropriate penalties.
You’ll need a skilled Tempe contempt of court lawyer to represent you in court to increase your odds of success and enforcement of the orders that were violated.
A contempt action is treated as a semi-criminal action with severe consequences that could affect employment. Although the accuser has a high burden of proving that failure to abide by the court orders rises to the level of contempt, counting on their failure to overcome that burden shouldn’t be the chosen defense mechanism.
The only way to ensure that you have the best chance possible of defeating the contempt charges or reaching an agreement outside of court to remedy the issue is by hiring Adriana Blanchette, a skilled and compassionate Tempe contempt and family law attorney.
If you feel that you have a viable contempt action against your ex or the parent of your child, or if you feel that a contempt petition was wrongly filed against you, Adriana Blanchette will provide you with peace of mind as you prepare for court. Call Blanchette Law PLLC at (602) 881-1748 to schedule your consultation today.