Filing for contempt of court may bring severe consequences such as jail time and significant legal fees incurred during representation. It is not something that the courts take lightly, especially when it comes to protecting the best interests of a minor child. If you are unsure whether filing for contempt is right for you, below are five things to consider when deciding whether to file a motion for contempt.

First, consider the advantages of filing for contempt:

  1. Getting Compliance
    • The biggest advantage of filing for contempt is that the court will order the opposing party to comply or face punishment. For example, if a custody order is in place and a party is disregarding the court order, holding the party in contempt will force compliance or administer punishment for noncompliance. However, filing for contempt is not the only option. Alternative dispute resolutions are available, such as demand letters from a Raleigh divorce attorney, mediation, or modification of the court order. Having an experienced family law attorney will help you explore which option is best for you.
  2. Setting Boundaries
    • Court orders are just that, orders. Court orders are meant to be followed, not ignored. By filing for contempt, a co-parent can enforce boundaries on an even higher level than the court order itself, now with the threat of jail time and other punishment. This is typically enough to achieve compliance with orders in the future. Family courts in North Carolina aim to keep the best interests of the child at the forefront of litigation. Court orders are meant to set these boundaries not only to protect both parents, but the minor child. Filing for contempt may be the best option to serve the best interests of the child. Our attorney is here to help you in this decision.

It is also important to consider the difficulties of filing for contempt:

  1. Having to Prove Your Case
    • You must have adequate proof to convince the judge that the court order has been violated. This can be difficult when conversations are had either in person, or talking on the phone. Further, you may not expect to have to file a motion for contempt in hopes that the opposing party will do the right thing. One way to combat this problem is to reduce the communication to writing, whether that be through text, e-mail, or other messaging devices. Keeping a record of communication where the court order has been violated can help establish and prove a basis for contempt.
  2. Creating More Conflict
    • When it comes to family law, parents may be placed in contempt for a variety of reasons, such as not following a custodial visitation schedule. Perhaps a parent does not want to produce a child for visitation, or a parent is habitually late with drop-off or pick-up times. By filing for contempt, a co-parent might “add fuel to the fire” and make matters worse by not only offending the opposing party, but potentially subjecting the opposing party to jail time. This could lead to more tension in the relationship between co-parents, and unfortunately could also affect the minor child of this relationship. This is why it is important to speak with an attorney before filing an unfounded motion for contempt and using valuable court time.
  3. Legal Fees
    • A contempt order comes with potentially severe consequences, such as jail time. The legal fees incurred either by filing for contempt or defending a contempt order can add up quickly. The losing party may also end up paying for the attorney’s fees incurred. Obtaining an experienced family law attorney in the early stages can prevent future and potentially unnecessary litigation and the following legal expenses.

Our Raleigh divorce lawyer is here to help you determine whether filing for contempt is appropriate while keeping the best interests of your minor child as top priority. Contact our office today for a consultation.