When an opposing party violates a court order, the other party is free to bring a motion for contempt. What is a motion for contempt? It is a legal remedy that can be used when a party intentionally and willfully disobeys a court order. To prove contempt, a party must show by a preponderance of the evidence three things: 1) that a court order exists (easy enough); 2) the other party had knowledge of the court order; and 3) that the party intentionally violated the order.
Some Common Examples of Contempt in Custody and Divorce Cases Include:
- When a parent refuses to abide by the court-ordered visitation schedule;
- When a parent refuses to return the child to the other parent after their parenting time ends;
- When a parent fails to make reasonable efforts at requiring a child to have court-ordered visitation with the other parent;
- When an ex-spouse refuses to turn over property awarded to the other spouse in accordance with a settlement agreement or judgment;
- When a parent refuses to pay their court-ordered child or spousal support; and
- When a party violates a restraining order (this can be charged criminally).
What happens if a Court Finds Contempt?
If the Court finds a party is in contempt, it can order one of the following (this is a non-exhaustive list):
- Require the parties to attend mediation;
- Require a party to complete parenting classes, counseling, or submit to evaluations such as a parental capacity or chemical dependency evaluation;
- Order sanctions (this can include a lump sum payment or an award of attorney’s fees incurred as a result of bringing the motion for contempt); or
- Imprisonment if the contempt is a type included in North Dakota Century Code § 27-10-01.1 subsections (b)-(f). The violating party may be subject to jail time for as long as they continue to be in contempt or up to six months, whichever is shorter.
What are Alternatives to Bringing a Motion for Contempt?
- A party can send a demand letter to the other via regular or certified mail. This letter should explain each of the violations committed and a request to remedy them. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, it shows the Court that the non-contemptuous party is reasonable and gave the other party the chance to fix the situation before taking it through the court system;
- Have an attorney draft a demand letter on their behalf requesting compliance;
- Schedule mediation; or
- File a motion with the court to modify the order. Rather than asking the Court to enforce the order, you are asking them to change it as it is clearly not working.
If an opposing party isn’t abiding by a court order or if you are facing a motion for contempt, give our team of experienced attorneys a call today. Given that a motion for contempt is a complicated matter that shouldn’t be taken lightly, having a knowledgeable attorney at your side can make all the difference.
Contact Rosenquist Law Office by phone at (701) 775-0654 or email us at email@example.com to schedule your free consultation.*The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.