Contempt of court is something that most people associate with disrespectful conduct during a court proceeding. Though courts are able to use contempt laws to maintain proper behavior during hearings, contempt motions can also be used to enforce judgments or orders. In Georgia, it is possible to have a motion of contempt filed against you for failing to adhere to orders that were approved during family court. If you have failed to pay alimony, child support, adhere to custody agreements, or divide property, your former spouse may take you to court for contempt. When this happens, preparing a defense for contempt of court is necessary in order to avoid fines and other penalties.
Responding to the Motion
Once your former spouse or partner has initiated a contempt action, you will be served by the initiating party or your local Sheriff department. After you are served, you will typically have 30 days in which to respond. Either you will need to prove that you are now complying with the court order or show that you were never in contempt. In order to show compliance, you would need to pay all past-due support payments and continue to follow agreements, but showing that you were never in contempt requires lodging defense and attending a court hearing.
In order to be found guilty of contempt, it must be proven that your actions were intentional. Therefore, if you plan to fight the motion, you must be prepared to show the court that your actions were not willful. If you were unaware of a final motion establishing a specific visitation schedule or support amount, providing proof that you never received the order is one way to show that you did not willfully disobey a court order. Also, if you were unable to pay an ordered support amount and can prove that it was impossible to obey the order, you can show the court that you did not intend to disobey.
Georgia courts have severe penalties for those who are found guilty of willfully disobeying a court order. If you cannot prove your innocence, you could find yourself responsible for paying the attorney’s fees of your former spouse and paying any past due support. You could even be incarerated. In situations in which a contempt motion was filed because of failure to make timely support payments, the court could order wage garnishment. Alternatively, if an Income Deduction Order is not already in place, the court can contact your employer to initiate one that automatically takes money from your income in order to pay child support or alimony obligations.
Contacting an Attorney
Contempt of court is a serious violation that can impact your finances and future family law cases. Additionally, being found guilty could lead to incarceration and other life-altering penalties. If you believe that you will be served with a motion of contempt, it is important to contact a qualified contempt attorney. The attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum are prepared to launch an aggressive defense on your behalf. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at one of our conveniently located Atlanta metro area offices so that we can discuss your unique situation.