If for any reason, you are called to court, you must be wondering what would happen if you don’t follow a court order. Non-compliance with a Court Order is seen as ‘contempt of court’. Moreover, contempt of court is an offence that is punishable by fine or even imprisonment. In most cases, especially in proceedings regarding family court, both parties at least try to coup their defiance or disregard of each other and the court by observing the Court Order; if not, they apply to defer the court order.
These kinds of cases usually occur where there is a court order that a parent, let’s suppose the mother, allows that the child be able to visit the father, however, she herself fails to abide by the Court Order and does not further the process of contact or visitation. Furthermore, such cases also arise when a Court Order requires one ex-spouse to pay spousal maintenance of a certain amount to the other ex-spouse every month, and he/she stops sending in those monthly payments.
You must have heard and might also have an understanding of the term “held in contempt” by a court. Similarly, in the light of punishment for improper behaviour or bursts of temper at court; such events are usually played out in television serials and movies. It is normal for such contempt proceedings to take place and they are known as “direct contempt.” When such a case comes up, the judge witnesses the action that has apparently breached the regulations or orders of the court. If some sort of infringement is found, the judge instantly punishes the violating party right there. However, different kinds of court of contempt for disobeying court orders follows a different procedure. This is because these kinds of contempt of court are thought to be “indirect.”
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Contempt Of Court?
- 2 Establishing That Someone Is In Contempt Of Court
- 3 What Can You Do If Your Child Custody and Visitation Order was Violated?
- 4 What Happens If You Don’t Follow a Court Order for Visitation?
- 5 What Happens If You Don’t Follow Divorce Orders?
- 6 What Happens When A Court Order Is Broken?
- 7 Conclusion
What Is Contempt Of Court?
Before getting into the details, it is important to know what a contempt of court order is. Typically, when an individual intervenes with the judicial policies and administration, they will be held in contempt of court. Moreover, infringing a court order on purpose, is also considered to be in contempt of court. Penalties for contempt of court orders include:
- Seizure of assets.
Establishing That Someone Is In Contempt Of Court
In order to authenticate that an individual is in contempt of court, it is essential to validate that the person:
- Had a complete idea of the terms and conditions of the court order.
- Behaved or was unsuccessful in behaving in a manner that involved a violation of the court order.
- Had a knowledge of the facts and figures which resulted in his behaviour being a violation of the court order.
What Can You Do If Your Child Custody and Visitation Order was Violated?
In most cases, both the parents participate equally in child custody and visitation rights agreements. As soon as these agreements are finalized by the parents, the court has to approve them before they become a legitimized enforceable document. Since the visitation rights are legally enforceable, they are something that are treated quite seriously and can result in major legal actions upon any kind of breach. The violations of visitation rights can include:
- Having the child over for a longer visit that what the custody or visitation order states;
- Not telling the other parent about where the child is or where you are taking him/her;
- Having a long vacation with the child without asking permission from the other parent first or even letting them know;
- Taking the child outside of state lines that can result in federal issues;
- Permitting an unapproved individual to look after the child;
- Refusing the other parent their share of custody or visitation rights;
- Other kinds of infringement.
If such a situation occurs, it is recommended that you do not attempt to take matters into your own hands. The first sensible thing to do is to get in touch with the relevant authorities, for example, the police. This is especially if the child has been gone or has been missing for some time.
Once a particular breach has been pointed out, it is also suggested to let the court know of the entire situation as soon as possible. This will prevent you from doing something that might also fall under the category of a violation. Moreover, it will put you in a better position.
What Happens If You Don’t Follow a Court Order for Visitation?
If someone is found breaching a court order for child custody or visitation, it can cause serious repercussions. Firstly, because the visitation agreements are actually a court order, violating them can result in contempt of court problems. The penalties for these violations can be equivalent to criminal penalties such as fines or jail time.
Secondly, and also more importantly, infringement of legally approved custody or visitation orders can also result in losing parental rights for the parent who has committed the violation. If the violation was taken place by the custodial parent, they may even lose their custody rights, or have their custody reduced. If a noncustodial parent has breached visitation agreements, they can lose some or all of their visitation rights along with any custody rights that they might have had.
Therefore, if someone tries to get access to more custody or visitation time other than what the court has approved of, it can just end up in that parent losing his/her custodial or visitation rights.
What Happens If You Don’t Follow Divorce Orders?
Refusal to comply with the court’s orders on divorce can result in either a second order being presented, or jail for the non-compliant party depending upon the severity of the situation. Judges usually have the power to decide what kind of penalty is appropriate; these can include wage garnishment, legal fees, as well as jail time (again, depending on the situation). The kind of punishment you receive can be more severe if your non-cooperation with the divorce agreements correlates with the child (or children) that you might have had with your ex. This includes failure to pay child support. Given below are some kinds of penalties that can be given in case of contempt of court orders.
- Wage Garnishment: A judge can order that some deduction be made from your wages if you do not give your dues that were stated in the divorce order. The amount cut from your paycheck will be added to your left over dues before you receive it. However, there is a limit to how much money can be deducted from your pay..
- Legal Fees: If your ex-wife or ex-husband takes you to court to get you to agree with the divorce order, you might have to compensate them for any legal fees they might have submitted including what they paid their lawyer to the court.
- Jail: If you are found in contempt of court, you could have to serve jail time for your failure to abide by the divorce order. Contempt of court means intentionally disregarding a court order. Before ordering jail time, most of the time, judges give less severe consequences, for example a fine or paying the fees of your ex-spouse’s lawyer. Moreover, if you do not pay child support, it can be considered as a crime and you would receive an extra jail sentence for it.
What Happens When A Court Order Is Broken?
If it is the first time that you have failed to obey court order and have been charged with a contempt of court, the court may:
- Ask you to attend a post-separation parenting program;
- May issue an order where they compensate the parent for the time they did not spend with the child because of any violation and/or compensate them for any expenses acquired because of said violation (this is only in the case where the infringement is an infringement of a parenting order);
- Postpone the proceedings to give time to the violating party to apply for a second order or modification of the order;
- Ask you to enter into a bond. If you cannot do that, the court may fine you up to 10 penalty units where each penalty unit is $110;
- Pass an order that requires you to pay a part of or all of the other parties’ legal costs that might have taken place in bringing the contravention before the court.
On the other hand, if it is is the second or third (or more) failure to obey court order, the court may:
- Pass an order compensating a person for the time they were unable spend with their child because of the infringement and/or compensate the parent for any expenses that piled up because of the said infringement (this is only in the case where the infringement is an infringement of a parenting order);
- Postpone the court proceedings to permit a party to apply for a second order or a modification of the first order;
- Pass an order that will have the violating party take part in community service;
- Ask the violating party to to enter into a bond;
- Fine the violating party with up to 60 penalty units where each penalty unit equals $110;
- Charging the violating party with a sentence of imprisonment;
- Pass an order that the violating party pay a part of or all of the other parties legal costs that might have taken place in bringing the contravention before the court.
The commitment to conform to court orders is a positive one. Failure to obey court order as well as making no sensible endeavor to conform to an order of the court is a difficult issue. In concluding whether to give a solicitation for adjustment, judges consider how noteworthy the difference in conditions is. A minor change in conditions, for example, a reduction in yearly salary of $2,000 won’t legitimize an adjustment. However, if the mentioned alteration is associated with the welfare of your child, the appointed authority will likewise think about the child’s eventual benefits. If you are fruitful on a Motion for Contempt, you may have the option to recoup any lawyer charges you would have obtained for having to document the process and the order and carry the agreement to court.