After spending several months, and in some cases years, reaching an acceptable divorce or custody agreement, the average adult expects to move on with little difficulty. Adhering to a hard won agreement is one of the best ways to avoid future problems with a former spouse. However, there are times when adults with the best of intentions are unable to follow the court order as they previously agreed. When situations occur that prevent an adult from following a court order, that person is at risk being found in contempt of court. If this happens, defending against a contempt action is often the only way avoid serious repercussions.
Contempt of Court Explained
Contempt of court occurs when a judge rules that a person is willfully and intentionally refusing to follow a judge’s order. Following a divorce or custody dispute, contempt of court actions are often filed when a non-custodial parent does not pay child support, a custodial parent does not allow visitations ordered by the court to take place, or assets are not distributed as ordered. Contempt actions are ultimately used as a way to enforce a court order with which one party is not compliant.
Filing a Contempt Motion
Once a court order is violated, a contempt motion can be brought against you by your former spouse or ex-partner. The person making the complaint must file by completing a Motion for Contempt form, completing a verification form, and including a certified copy of the court order being violated. Typically, a filing fee is required, but a Poverty Affidavit can be completed that asks the court to waive the filing fees. Though an ex-spouse can serve the motion him or herself by having the opposing party sign an Acknowledgement of Service form before a notary, in most cases, the Sheriff serves the opposing party at home or at his or her place of employment.
Penalties for Contempt
Having a contempt action brought against you in Georgia is nothing to take lightly. The state has the option of punishing you through incarceration and fines along with requiring the payment of past due support. In situations that involve a parent being refused visitation time the court may also award compensatory custody time. Also, you may be required to pay your ex-spouse’s legal fees if they filed their motion with the assistance of an attorney.
Seeking Defense Assistance
Being served with a contempt order after a drawn out divorce is distressing and often overwhelming. If you or someone you know is facing a contempt hearing, it is important that you seek the advice of a skilled attorney. Defending against these charges by showing that no order was violated or that the violation was not willful helps avoid expensive and damaging penalties. The qualified contempt attorneys at Vayman and Teitelbaum understand what it is like to deal with an ex-spouse who refuses respect post-divorce boundaries. Contact us today and schedule a consultation at one of our four offices conveniently located in the Atlanta metro area so that we can help you with your unique situation.