What Is Contempt of Court in a Divorce Case?

close up of judge and gavel
Sep 29, 2023 | Content

Contempt of court is one of the most powerful tools available to the judge during divorce proceedings. In fact, the judge could find a person in contempt after a divorce has concluded if the terms of the decree are not followed. Contempt could involve anything from failure to stick with a custody schedule to refusal to pay child support.

There are consequences that come with a contempt finding, including the potential for jail time. However, judges usually turn to contempt as a last resort if a dispute cannot be resolved amicably. Our dedicated family attorneys can help you better understand what contempt is in a divorce case and how it could impact your final agreement.

When Is Contempt of Court Necessary?

Contempt of court is a power that every judge holds. The parties to a divorce case must follow any order issued by the Georgia courts. When a person intentionally violates these terms, they are in contempt.

While the judge has the power to find someone in contempt on their own, a spouse can also file a petition asking the judge to find the other side in contempt for violating a term of their agreement. However, it is not always the right move to file a motion for contempt. Sometimes, court orders are broken by mistake. This can happen when a person forgets to write a check or makes an error when writing down the child visitation schedule on a calendar. When that person makes immediate efforts to correct the mistake when they learn of it, a motion for contempt is unnecessary.

What Are the Consequences of a Contempt Finding?

Multiple options are available to the judge when they find someone in contempt. Ultimately, a contempt finding aims to fix the issue at hand, so the first step is usually to order the non-compliant party to adhere to the decree. In some cases, the judge might issue a monetary fine.

In serious cases, a judge might even alter the terms of the divorce decree. A parent who repeatedly fails to comply with the court order could see their custody or visitation rights reduced. Additionally, although less common, the judge also has the power to incarcerate someone for contempt of court.

There is no question that the consequences of a contempt of court finding in a divorce case can be significant. That is why it is important to rely on the advice of legal counsel both during and after your divorce.

Talk to an Attorney About Contempt of Court in a Divorce Case

Contempt in a divorce case is the ultimate remedy the judge has when one or both parties refuse to follow the divorce decree. In extreme cases, it can result in jail time or fines. However, contempt is usually avoidable by following the decree’s terms or asking for modifications if that becomes impossible.

Rely on the team at the Atlanta Divorce Law Group to help you understand more about what contempt of court is and how it relates to the divorce process.

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