Part of the legal process involves following through on signed agreements. Not doing so, whether by ignoring or deliberately disobeying a court-ordered divorce decree, puts an individual in the unenviable position of being guilty of contempt of court. It might seem that people would go to great lengths to avoid being held in contempt of court, fearing the humiliation as well as the legal consequences of such flagrant disobedience of the law. In fact, however, more ex-spouses than you probably imagine earn this dubious designation.
Our Orlando Family Law Attorney Can Help You
If you are being victimized by a former spouse who is in violation of your divorce agreement, you may feel helpless and overwhelmed. Don’t be. Orlando Family Team, located right here in Central Florida, is ready to defend your rights and protect your financial and logistical interests. As a husband and wife team, we are experienced in working with energy and dedication as contempt of court enforcement attorneys.
Whether your ex-spouse has failed to pay spousal or child support, not met parenting time obligations, defied custody arrangements, or assumed ownership of assets that were assigned to you in your divorce agreement, Orlando Family Team will fight forcefully to have contempt of court charges filed and enforced.
Penalties for Being Found Guilty of Contempt of Court
Working with our talented divorce attorneys will put you back on an even playing field. Once we have initiated actions accusing your ex-spouse of being guilty of contempt of court, there will be a hearing after which he or she may suffer one or more of the following consequences:
- Wage garnishment
- Seizure of tax returns
- Loss of a professional license
- Yielding compensatory visitation (to make up for your lost parenting time)
- Arrest for parental kidnapping
- Modification of custody arrangements
- Jail time until obligations are met
It is worth noting that wage garnishment carries with it a certain amount of embarrassment since your ex is exposed as not just a violator of a court order but an irresponsible parent at his/her place of employment.
The Process of Filing Contempt Charges
As your attorneys, once we evaluate your case and find an authentic example of contempt of court, we will serve a motion of contempt upon your ex-spouse. The motion will state precisely which areas of your divorce decree have been violated and we will have accumulated evidence to prove our charges. The latter is essential because during the court hearing that follows the burden of proof will be on us.
Once finding your ex guilty of contempt, the judge will order compliance with the order that was disobeyed, either immediately or within a stated period of time, depending on the specific circumstances. While jail is an option the judge may consider, there are several reasons that option may be taken off the table and you should be prepared for these:
- If your ex were in jail there would be no one available during his/her parenting time to care for dependent children.
- Your ex would lose his/her job if jailed which would cut off income and ability to pay any support.
- Your ex has physical or emotional disabilities that have prevented compliance and that would perhaps make jail a particularly cruel alternative.
Even without the possibility of jail as a threat, your ex will most likely capitulate, realizing that unpaid support is accumulating and that wages will be garnished until that debt is paid off. Not only that, but the judge is likely to continue wage garnishment as long as child or spousal support is necessary since your ex has shown a lack of voluntary compliance.
Wage garnishment means that the amount your ex owes you will be withheld from his or her paycheck and sent to the sheriff. The sheriff will then forward the money directly to you. It results in a certain amount of humiliation since the employer now knows of your ex’s status as a “deadbeat” parent.
No Matter What the Reason for Contempt of Court, It Is Not Good Enough
Like other legal imperatives, the stipulations of a divorce decree must be followed whether they seem fair or not. Your ex may feel that he or she is being required to:
- Contribute too much money to help support you and the children
- Spend too much time caring for the children
- Give up time that should be spent with the children
- Relinquish too many of the marital assets
Nonetheless, these are not considered viable reasons to refuse to follow the letter of the law. He or she may hire an attorney to fight for a divorce modification, but simply not complying with the specifics set down in the divorce agreement brings with it the possibility of contempt of court charges being filed and enforced.
Contact Our Orlando Family Law Attorney
Ophelia Bernal-Mora and Andrew Nickolaou, the talented and empathetic attorneys of Orlando Family Team, have the experience and determination to fight for your rights after divorce. We know how frustrating it is to think that the worst is over when you sign the divorce decree, only to find that your ex is not fulfilling his/her end of the bargain. Contact us at the first sign of a problem so we can get the situation under legal control as quickly as possible.