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The Top Reasons You Can Be Held in Contempt of Court (and How to Avoid These Charges)

June 21, 2024

Contempt of court is also referred to as contempt. It is a serious matter that refers to the willful disobedience of a court order, or some other conduct that disrupts or disrespects court proceedings. Suppose someone is held in contempt of court. In that case, it means that they did something inside or outside the courtroom to disobey a judge's orders, disrespected a judge or court proceedings, or obstructed the proper administration of justice. Going through family law proceedings can be a difficult and stressful experience. In the heat of the moment, you may do or say something that could be considered contempt without realizing it. This leads to potentially serious repercussions or penalties. To help prevent this from occurring, learn about the reasons why you could be held in contempt of court and how you can avoid facing contempt charges.  

Reasons to Be Held in Contempt of Court

When going through a family law case, there are several reasons why an individual may be held in contempt of court. Some of the most common reasons for this to occur include:

Violating Court Orders

The most common reason to be held in contempt of court during family law proceedings is for violating a court order. For instance, if you fail to comply with custody arrangements, refuse to pay child support, or disregard visitation schedules, you may be found in contempt of a court order. This could result in serious consequences. Whether you are in the middle of family law proceedings or proceedings have already concluded, you must comply with any court orders given to you by the judge. 

Being Disruptive in Court

There is a certain level of decorum that they expect you to maintain during court proceedings. If you fail to respect the court and engage in disruptive behavior, the judge may find you to be in contempt of court. This includes shouting, interrupting the judge or another party when it's their turn to speak, or displaying aggression. You must try your best to remain calm and collected. Whether you are in court for divorce proceedings or to go over custody arrangements. Show respect to the judge as well as other parties present to avoid being held in contempt.   

Failure to Disclose Financial Information

During divorce or child support proceedings, they will ask both parties to disclose financial information. These include their income, savings, and other assets that they may have. The judge will then use this information to ensure that any alimony or child support payments either party is required to make are fair and equitable. However, it is not uncommon in such cases for people to hide financial information to reduce the payable amount. While this may be tempting, failing to provide accurate and complete financial information can lead to you being held in contempt of court. 

Failing to Comply With Discovery Requests

During family law proceedings, a process may take place known as discovery. Both parties gather information and evidence from each other relevant to the case. Another way an individual may be found in contempt of court is if they fail to comply with discovery requests. These include refusing to provide requested documents or intentionally withholding certain information. This is why you must comply with any discovery requests made by the other party to avoid contempt charges and penalties. 

How to Avoid Being Held in Contempt of Court

The penalty for being held in contempt of court can include hefty fines and even jail time. You may wonder how to avoid these charges. The simple answer is to respect the judge and follow court orders exactly. Additionally, you can avoid being held in contempt of court by: 

Doing What the Judge Tells You

The easiest way to avoid being held in contempt of court is to do everything the judge tells you to do. For instance, if they order you to pay child support or provide financial documents, you must follow the court's orders. Make sure to adhere to any deadlines so that you are not held in contempt.  

Showing Up to Court Appearances

If they require you to appear in court, you mustn't miss your court date. The judge may fine you for contempt of court. Make sure you show up on time and respect the court by showing the proper decorum.  

Being Respectful in Court

You must maintain your composure and act respectfully at all times when in court. Talking back to the judge, lying, withholding information, or swearing shows a lack of respect for the judge. The serious nature of legal proceedings and these actions can lead to you being held in contempt of court.  

Requesting a Modification

If you know that there is a court order you struggle to comply with, you should try to request a modification to change the terms of the court order. This shows the judge that you want to comply with court orders but need accommodations to make that happen. A judge would much rather see you request a modification than fail to comply. Doing so can reduce the chances that you will be held in contempt.  

Consult an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

One of the best ways to avoid being held in contempt of court is to make sure you work with an experienced family law attorney. They can help you deal with the stress that comes with family law proceedings. They can help coach you on what to say to ensure that you do not upset the judge. Also, they will help you manage all the complex paperwork and deadlines to ensure you maintain compliance with court orders.

If you are facing a family law case, you do not have to go through this difficult time alone. Feel free to contact us to find out how we can support you and make sure that you have someone looking out for your best interests who can help you navigate intricate court proceedings.