A family law case in Colorado could become complicated and require the courts to intervene, especially if the couple does not get along or one spouse is being vindictive during or after a divorce. One tool that the courts may use to force a party to comply with the court order is placing the individual in contempt of court. This is a process that can result in penalties against the offender, as well as a solution to the filing party’s grievance, such as requiring the offender to pay child support arrears.
What Does it Mean to Be in Contempt of Court?
Contempt of court means that someone has intentionally disobeyed or violated a court order. In this scenario in a family law case, the party that is being harmed or wronged by the violation can file a Motion for Citation for Contempt of Court. If the courts find the offending party guilty of intentionally disobeying a court order, such as a child support obligation, that party may be ordered to take remedial action, such as paying child support arrears immediately. Failing to remedy the situation could lead to additional penalties, such as the payment of a fine and even jail time.
There are two different types of contempt of court: remedial and punitive. Remedial contempt of court aims to force a party to comply with an order that he or she has been ignoring or violating. This is the most common type during a family law proceeding. The purpose of punitive contempt of court, on the other hand, is to punish the party for noncompliance that is so egregious it offends the dignity of the court. Punitive contempt of court could result in fines or jail time (up to six months) for the offending party. Both types of contempt of court could arise during a child support proceeding in Colorado.
Mistakes During a Family Law Proceeding That Could Lead to Contempt of Court
Many parties are surprised to learn that there are serious legal consequences for failing to fulfill the requirements of a court order in a family law case in Colorado, such as a divorce or legal separation. However, the courts take their orders seriously in all areas of law. A party could be held in contempt of a family court for the following reasons:
Defaulting on child support payments. The parent that has been ordered to pay child support failing to pay (defaulting on payments), continuously only paying a partial amount or paying late.
Engaging in financial misconduct. Your spouse has attempted to harm you financially – such as by hiding assets, lying about his or her income to pay less in child support, or refusing to pay child support – during a divorce case.
Failing to comply with a court order or parenting plan. Any action or omission that goes against a court order, such as failing to follow a child custody or visitation schedule.
Violating a protective order. Breaching the terms of a protective order (restraining order), such as maintaining contact with your children after the courts have forbidden it.
Placing your spouse in contempt of court for noncompliance with a court order, including a child support requirement, can help you get the money or resolution that you and your children need after a divorce or legal separation in Colorado. If you need immediate financial assistance, however, an alternative such as wage garnishment may be better suited to your needs, as contempt can take a long time to lead to the recovery of funds owed to you by your ex-spouse.
What to Do if Your Ex Refuses to Obey a Child Support Order
If you are divorced or legally separated in Colorado but your ex-spouse is refusing to pay child support or engaging in another form of noncompliance with a court order, contact a Fort Collins family law attorney for a consultation as soon as possible. An attorney can help you protect yourself and your family from financial hardship connected to an ex-spouse’s refusal to pay child support. This includes assisting you with a Motion for Contempt of Court in Colorado, if applicable.