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Contempt of Court in Family Law Cases

Posted on in Legal Questions

IL divorce lawyer In a divorce, you end up having to make a lot of compromises. The divorce process involves a series of negotiations, many of which you might leave feeling as if you did not get what you wanted, but it has been said before: a good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied. Compromise can indeed sometimes feel as if you have lost, but when it comes to your divorce, you should do everything you can to adhere to the compromises you agreed to. If not, the court may end up holding you in contempt.

Understanding Contempt of Court

Contempt of court occurs when a person does something that a judge or a court order has prohibited them from doing or required them to do. In most cases of contempt in family court, people are held in contempt because they have not obeyed or have violated an official order, such as a custody arrangement or support order.

If a person believes that their spouse is purposefully disobeying a court order, they can ask the judge to hold their spouse in contempt of court. A hearing will then be held to determine whether or not the spouse was actually in contempt and what consequences should be applied. For a person to be held in contempt, it must be proven that they:

  • Were aware of the court order
  • Knowingly and willfully disobeyed the order, even though they had the ability to comply

Yes, Jail Time Is Still a Possibility

There are many punishments that could be used if a person is found to be in contempt of the court. The specific remedy used will mostly depend on the nature of the specific situation, however, common remedies can include wage garnishment, court-ordered supervised visitation, and modifications to existing orders. It is also possible for a person who is in contempt of the court to be put in jail, as was the situation with one recent Illinois divorce case.

In one Illinois case, the husband was put in jail because he refused to follow an interim fee order. The wife originally stated in the divorce petition that she did not have the financial capacity to pay for an attorney and legal fees due to her staying home to raise the couple’s seven children, though her husband did. During the divorce proceedings, the husband’s net worth was estimated to be between $20 - $22 million and it was determined that he did have the ability to pay for the attorney and legal fees related to the divorce.

The judge eventually issued an interim order to the husband to pay $550,000 to the wife to cover the costs of her legal representation, expert witnesses, and the children’s representative. The husband tried to argue that he did not actually have the ability to pay the fees, but the court had gathered evidence to the contrary. The husband was only in jail a few days before he finally paid the $550,000 in fees.

A DuPage County Family Law Attorney Is Here For You

It can be frustrating if your spouse does not adhere to orders issued by the court. When it comes to things such as parenting time agreements, noncompliance from your spouse could make your life much more difficult. If your spouse has not complied with a court order, our Elmhurst, IL family law lawyers can help you file a motion for contempt, which can urge him or her to comply. At Weiss-Kunz & Oliver, LLC, we can also help you look at your orders to determine if they need to be modified at all. Call our office today at 312-605-4041 to schedule a consultation.





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