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What is Contempt of Court in Family Law Cases?

If you're engaging in an order enforcement dispute or some similar type of family law case, you may have heard the term "contempt of court" - but what does it mean? That's the question we answer with today's blog.

To schedule a consultation with a family lawyer who will advocate for you through thick and thin, contact our team online or via phone at (704) 659-0007.

What Does It Mean to Be Held "in Contempt of Court?"

There are two types of contempt of court: Criminal contempt, and civil contempt.

If an individual is found to show a lack of respect for court authority or acts in a way intended to disrupt court proceedings, they may be found in criminal contempt of court.

In contrast, an individual can be found in civil contempt of court if they refuse to comply with a legally binding court order. Generally, family law cases involve civil contempt of court.

Common instances in which an individual may be held in civil contempt of court in North Carolina include:

  • An individual fails to make child support payments they are obligated to supply;
  • A parent refuses to abide by the terms of a custody order, such as refusing to exchange custody at an agreed-on time and place or violating other terms of the custody arrangement;
  • A former spouse or partner violates a restraining order held against them;
  • A former spouse fails to supply spousal support they are responsible for; or
  • An individual violates the terms of a civil court order in some other manner.

Individuals are often found in contempt of court as part of an order enforcement case. These cases typically begin when one party files a motion for contempt with the court against a party who is failing to comply with a civil court order.

What Are the Penalties for Contempt of Court in NC?

It depends on the charges the individual found in contempt of court faces. Individuals found in civil contempt of court can be fined or imprisoned for up to 90 days; however, courts usually prefer alternate sentencing options, such as garnishing income or property to repay missed support, or rendering their professional, recreational, or occupational licenses invalid until they can rectify the issue.

At Rech Law, P.C., our team can help you pursue the best outcome in your case. Contact us online or via phone at (704) 659-0007 to schedule a consultation.

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