At Raza & Jones, LLC, we represent individuals with respect to contempt, enforcement of spousal support, child support, child custody, and other family law court orders in the St. Louis, MO area.
Whether you and your former spouse were able to resolve your divorce amicably or you went to court to establish the terms of your divorce, your marriage ended when a judge signed a divorce decree formally terminating your legal relationship. This decree is an official court order, and it requires you and your former spouse to adhere to the terms established during your divorce. Depending on the circumstances, this could include terms regarding:
In non-marital relationships, child custody, visitation and support rights are established by court order as well.
In any case, the law requires both spouses (or parents) to strictly comply with the terms of the court’s order. If one fails to meet his or her legal responsibilities, the other can seek enforcement through a motion for civil contempt.
Seeking Enforcement of Custody, Support, and Property Orders
In order to enforce a divorce decree or other court order through a motion for civil contempt, the party seeking enforcement must be able to establish that the other party willfully and deliberately violated the order. While this is a high standard, there are many forms of evidence that we at Raza & Jones, LLC may be able to use to help you enforce your legal rights.
For example, in many cases text messages, voicemails, and even social media posts will clearly demonstrate that a former spouse or parent is intentionally violating his or her responsibilities. In other cases, the parties’ actions (such as refusing to allow for visitation), bank statements, or other evidence will show that a party is in contempt as well.
In Missouri, being found in contempt can lead to incarceration. However, in many cases, the court will give the offending party an opportunity to fix the violation before sending him or her to jail. If the contempt involves non-payment of child support or spousal support, other potential remedies include things like:
When you meet with us, we will work closely with you to understand your situation, collect the evidence needed to file a motion for civil contempt, and then vigorously pursue enforcement of your legal rights in court.
There may also be other options (short of filing for contempt) that we can use to enforce your rights.
Defending Against a Motion for Civil Contempt
If you are facing a motion for civil contempt, you need to take your situation very seriously. A finding of contempt could lead to jail time and/or additional financial obligations or sanctions. To protect yourself, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
Depending on your personal circumstances, you may have one or more of several different defenses to avoid being held in civil contempt. Some of these potential defenses include:
When you contact us, we will conduct a thorough evaluation and develop a personalized strategy designed to resolve your case as quickly, cost-effectively, and favorably as possible.
What If I Can’t Meet My Court-Ordered Obligations?
If you are unable to meet your court-ordered obligations, it is critically important that you not simply ignore the order. The consequences of doing so can be severe, and there are better – and generally less costly – options available than facing a motion for civil contempt. One of these options is seeking modification of the order. In many cases, parents and former spouses are able to work together to modify orders to reflect changed circumstances and avoid the costs and burdens of contempt proceedings in court.