After you go through a divorce, there are court orders that you must follow, in some cases. For example, you may be ordered to pay spousal support or to pay child support. It is an expectation that you pay these on time based on the requirements of your court order.

If you do not do what you’re supposed to do, your ex-spouse may file the motion for contempt of court. This motion informs the court that you are not upholding part of the agreement.

What happens if your ex-spouse tries to hold you in contempt of court?

First, you will receive papers giving you notice of the contempt motion. The motion will state which part of the final divorce decree was violated and why you should be held in contempt of court. Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of your ex-spouse to prove that you are in contempt of court. You don’t have to say or do anything that could incriminate you.

There are a few issues that are commonly violated. These include:

  • Child support
  • Property division
  • Visitation
  • Child custody

What happens at the court hearing?

When you arrive at court, your ex-spouse will attempt to prove that you are in violation of a court order. If they prove that you are in contempt of court, you could face fines or imprisonment.However, it is normal for the judge to give you a chance to correct any issues that have arisen. For example, if you are accused of not paying child support, you can provide the other party with a payment to purge yourself of the contempt.

Why does contempt of court happen?

Sometimes, contempt is intentional. Other times, it’s accidental. For example, if you usually pay child support out of a paycheck but change jobs, you might have forgotten to set up the direct withdrawal. Making the situation right by paying as soon as possible can help you avoid penalties.

Contempt can also be intentional. For instance, a parent preventing the other from seeing their children out of spite would be an intentional contempt of court. In severe cases, parents who do this can lose custody of their children completely.

If you are accused of contempt of court, it’s a good idea to learn more about the alleged offense and what you can do to correct it, if anything. Showing that you’re willing to work with your ex-spouse is helpful in court.