A Complaint for Contempt may be filed in two instances: (1) during the pendency of an action if a Party violates a court order or (2) subsequent to the issuance of a judgment in a case. The issuance of a judgment signals the end of the legal process. However, if one party disobeys the judgment, the injured party may seek recourse through the Court by filing a Complaint for Contempt.
A Complaint for Contempt is a legal document that describes the contemptuous Party’s deliberate failure to comply with the order of the court or Judgment of Divorce. A Complaint for Contempt may be filed as a result of any violation of a court order or Judgment, but most often a Complaint for Contempt is filed because of one Party’s failure to comply with a custody plan, visitation plan, child support or spousal support order. In order for a party to be successful in a Contempt action, there must be a clear and unequivocal violation of a clear and unequivocal order.
Once a Complaint for Contempt is filed with the Court, the Court will issue a Contempt Summons. The Contempt Summons will contain a return date on which all Parties must appear in Court before the Judge to be heard on the Complaint for Contempt. The Contempt Summons must be served on the contemptuous Party so that he or she is given proper notice to appear for the hearing.
All Parties (and counsel if represented) are required to appear at the hearing. The Judge will hear arguments from both Parties and may conduct an evidentiary hearing. The Judge will then render a decision based on the merits of the case and if found in contempt, the contemptuous party may be ordered to pay for associated attorney’s fees and costs.