After a divorce, it’s not unusual for one of the parties to cease obeying a court order. We commonly see this in matters pertaining to child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Sometimes, this happens because a party is willfully disobeying the court order; for example, a man who refuses to pay child support. Other times, the person would follow the order if they could but something’s stopping them.
When someone cannot afford to pay child or spousal support, the solution is not to simply ignore the court order. Instead, they should immediately petition the court for a modification – this can apply to child support, spousal support and child custody.
All too often, people don’t realize they can petition the court for a modification to the existing court order. So, they willfully disobey it in hopes of it “going away.” Then, there are a select few who disobey the court order on purpose, despite their capability financially or otherwise, to adhere to it.
Regardless of the reasons behind the disobedience, the other party has the right to ask the court to enforce the court order. If the court finds the person has indeed violated a court order, they can be found in contempt of court.
About Contempt of Court
According to the State of Nevada, “The judge cannot hold someone in contempt unless the person is violating a written order that was signed by the judge, filed with the court, and served on the other party.” The state continues, “Contempt is a very serious matter and can result in sanctions, fines, or imprisonment.”
Even if you can prove that the other party has willfully disobeyed a written court order, the judge won’t necessarily impose fines and a jail sentence; the judge may find another solution. For example, if a parent is past-due on child support, putting them in jail won’t help them pay what they owe. They could lose your job if they’re imprisoned. Aware of this, the judge may come up with another solution, such as a payment arrangement.
Of course, if a party truly is in contempt and they fail to follow the court order despite the judge’s attempts to work with them, there’s always the looming threat of fines or jail, or both. That said, being held in contempt of court is not to be taken lightly.