Contempt and Enforcement of Orders
After an order of final judgment has been issued in a case, there may come a time when one of the parties does not follow the court’s orders. Perhaps a judge awarded you alimony but your ex-spouse refuses to pay. Or perhaps your parenting agreement was accepted by the court, but your ex-spouse refuses to honor it. When a refusal to follow court orders occurs, a Florida lawyer has a number of enforcement tools to encourage compliance.
What Does Contempt of Court in Florida Mean?
In the state of Florida, contempt of court is a legal term meaning a refusal to obey a judge’s mandate or order. In family law matters, indirect civil contempt is the most prevalent action taken.
Civil contempt is designed to encourage the offending party into compliance and is brought to the court’s attention by filing a motion of contempt followed by a hearing with a judge. At that time, the party complaining about the failure of the other to act must present his or her case and the offending party has an opportunity to present evidence to the court to show why he or she failed to comply with the court order.
If your ex-spouse or child’s parent is non-compliant with the orders of the court, it is important to keep detailed contemporaneous records and have witnesses regarding the violation.
Acts of civil contempt of court in family law matters include but are not limited to:
- Non-payment of child support
- Refusal to pay alimony
- Violations of the parenting plan
- Withholding timesharing and contact with the children
- Refusal to maintain insurance for the children
An order of contempt by the court may include the following sanctions on the other party:
- Jail sentence with a payment of some portion of the amount due
- Parenting classes
- Makeup timesharing if one parent is not allowing court-ordered visits
- Paying attorney fees and costs
Moreover, violations of the court’s orders on property settlement, such as the transfer of a home or bank account funds or payment of a lump sum for equalizing the property division, are not actionable by contempt. In those cases, a motion for enforcement is required. This motion is set for a hearing and the court can order that the offending party pay the required amounts within a certain timeframe, pay interest on the amounts due, or other sanctions.
The Violation of a Court Order is a Serious Matter
As a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, Sandra K. Ambrose meets Florida’s comprehensive statewide standards and is well versed in the requirements to prove or disprove a contempt or enforcement action. Ms. Ambrose’s specific training and education coupled with her decades of experience as a litigator and a General Magistrate set her apart from other family law mediators, making her exceptionally qualified to handle your case.
If you think the other party has failed to follow a court order in your family law case, or you’ve been accused of violating a court order in a family law matter, Ambrose Family Law is ready to help. Let us review your case and protect your interests. Contact our Lake Mary office at (407) 388-8740 to schedule your consultation today.