What Is Contempt of Court in Family Law?


Generally, under family law, the court can cover issues like child custody, child support, divorce, alimony, and many more. Violating any court order can be considered as contempt of court. If any party disobeys any order from the court, then the other party can file against that person in contempt.

Following and obeying court orders is very important for an individual. If anyone fails to obey the court order, the consequences would be punished by the court. So it is very important to know about the contempt of the court. In this writing, we will discuss what is contempt of court in family law. So keep reading!

Contempt of Court in Family Law:

The following word contempt is used to explain when an individual fails to fulfill or obey the court’s order. Sometimes, it can be intentional and also can be unintentional. Under the family law, in most cases, people tend to disobey the child custody orders, deny spousal support, and violate the custody law.

If an individual violates a court’s order, then the consequences will not be good for one because it is a punished act according to Canadian law. There are mainly two types of contempt of court in family law. One is called criminal contempt, and another is civil contempt. Below are given a brief explanation:

1. Criminal contempt:

This contempt generally happens when someone violates the court’s proceedings. Also, disrespectful acts toward the court authority will be considered as criminal contempt of court. The penalties for criminal contempt are also very harsh because it arises so many issues and discouragements in future court proceedings.

2. Civil contempt:

These kinds of contempt are basically when someone does not follow the court rules and order. There are also two types of civil contempt. One is coercive, and another is compensatory. Especially in child custody procedures, coercive civil contempt plays a very important role.

The goal of coercive civil contempt is to make the person, obeying the court order again. The goal of the separated parent would be to deal and take all responsibilities of their child support again.

Some example of contempt of court:

Generally, contempt of court occurs when it is during or after the separation proceeding of a couple. Usually, one party denies obeying the court order. Sometimes, intentional action or unintentional action can lead them to contempt of court. Some common examples are given in the following:

  • Disobeying a Restraining order
  • Not taking responsibility for the child supports the court orders.
  • Not taking responsibility for spousal supports is ordered by the court.
  • Refusing the parenting plan from the court.
  • Failure to return the child to the other party before the deadline
  • Denying the order of property division

Intentional vs unintentional Disobedience:

As we have said earlier that Disobedience toward the court’s order can be willful and also can be un willful. Willful Disobedience occurred when an individual was aware of the court’s rules and order. But that person chooses to disobey without any circumstance.

On the other hand, un willful disobedience is simply just the opposite. Generally, this happens when one person is unable to follow the court order. Sometimes, the individual’s circumstances are out of their control. For example, suppose the court orders someone to support his/her child, but that person lost his or her job. As a result, that person is unable to do that.

Punishment for contempt of court:

No matter it is willful or un-willful,Disobedience to the court order, contempt of court is a punishable act according to most of the provinces. The penalties also may vary from situation to situation. Sometimes, civil contempt proceedings are quite different from the criminal proceeding.

As a result, penalties are also different. Depending on the violation, the penalties can be included in some factors. Those factors are in the following:

  • Money fines
  • Garnishment of wages
  • Supervised visitation by the court
  • Sometimes Imprisonment
  • Change in the parenting plans.

Proof of contempt:

If someone is found in contempt of a court order, then the consequences can be serious. Also, the penalties for not obeying the court order can be severe. The court will ask for clear evidence if you and your co-parent are willingly disobeying the court order. Then you guys have to show all the past documentation to the court in this regard.

For instance, if your co-parent offered you something, they claim that you refused the visitation. You need to show the court the agreement and all relevant documents to protect yourself against those claims.

The final thought:

No matter what your issues are, you should not disobey any of the court’s proceedings. It is always recommended to take all the court’s orders very seriously. If you are having some financial hardship or any trouble, you should let your lawyer know about your issues.

If you fail to do so, then this can potentially take you to jail. Sometimes, making a decision and going through the court process seems really complex. You can find someone for yourself who can assist you in this regard (i.e.,family lawyer Calgary). Hopefully, from this writing, now you have learned about contempt of court in family law.

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