Contempt Family Law and Divorce Attorneys – Georgia
What is Contempt in a Georgia Divorce or Family Law Case?
Contempt, in the context of a divorce / family law case is the willful violation of a court order issued in the case. In contempt cases, the parties will frequently disagree about the “willfulness” of a party not following a court order – or – whether the activity was technically a violation of the order. This will usually mean that the court will have to decide if there was “willful contempt” at a court hearing. Because the attorneys in the original divorce or family law case usually have much input into the drafting of the court orders and settlements, it is important to make sure your attorney is working hard to make sure the order is drafted with your best interesting in mind when possible.
This is important to consider because, it is common for the same judge who issued the court order – will likely review accusations that someone is now in contempt of the order. However, as the parties may move and time may pass – it is more likely that a new judge or a new jurisdiction (state or county court) may hear an accusation of contempt.
What are the defenses to allegation of Contempt in a Georgia Divorce or Family Law Case?
Defenses to an alleged contempt citation may include:
- the person accused of contempt did not violate the court order; and / or
- the violation of the court order was not willful – usually due to circumstances beyond the party’s control.
What are common causes of contempt cases in Georgia divorce and family law cases?
Contempt allegations are usually about the willful failure to:
- pay child support in total or in a timely manner
- pay spousal support / alimony in total or in a timely manner
- take the actions necessary to transfer of property to a former spouse
- continue to provide their children with healthcare / health insurance benefits
- pay court ordered attorney fees
- surrender property to the former spouse or allow access to property
- follow a child custody order
- abide by the Domestic Standing Order that is automatic in many Georgia divorce and family law cases
- abide by miscellaneous provisions of a divorce decree or parenting plan, such as: a child’s extracurricular activities; a morality clause; the paying for custody related expenses
If any activity is covered by a court order, it can usually be the subject of a contempt allegation. This is why when a party’s circumstances change – it is usually wise to seek a modification of child support or a modification of custody before one starts to violate the existing court orders.
What will happen if a Judge finds someone in willful contempt of a divorce or family law court order?
The court may order the person found in contempt to cooperate with the court’s order or be incarcerated. A Judge may even order a person to be incarcerated until compliance with the court’s order begins. For example, the court may order a person jailed until they pay all back child support or alimony / spousal support. In addition, the court may also order the offending party to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees.
What other Court remedies are available for Contempt?
The court can also take additional measures to ensure compliance with its court orders. For example, the court can hold an offending party in criminal contempt imposing fines and incarceration in jail. In addition, the garnishment of bank accounts, wages and other assets can be used to collect past due child support, alimony / spousal support and attorney’s fees payments. In addition, liens can be filed on the property of an offender to remedy past due payments.
How long does a Georgia Divorce or Family Law Contempt case take to complete?
Contempt cases typically move much faster than a divorce or family law case since the subject of the action is usually one issue: did the other party violate an existing Court Order – and if so – what will the Court do to help remedy the situation.
What if I am accused of contempt and I prove that the other person lied?
If you can show the Court that you have been falsely accused, you can also ask the Court to order the other party that made the false accusations to pay your attorney’s fees. As in most requests for attorney’s fees, the award is at the sole discretion of the Court – so this is not a guarantee. Knowing that you could possibly be falsely accused of contempt, it is wise to be proactive and maintain thorough records of support payments and keep all receipts. Document and video record visitation exchanges. Have a witness whenever possible. Keep copies all emails, text messages and voice messages that are relevant to the divorce or family law court orders.
When should I file for Contempt?
If the other party is in actual violation of the Court order, it will depends on the following: how important it is to you that the other party obey the Court Order; how much money has accumulated in past due support payments; how late is the other party in past due support payments; what is the risk of harm financially to you for the other party not following the courts order; what is the emotional harm to you or your children due to the other party not following the court’s order. However, it is important that you do not rely on the other party ordered to reimburse you for your attorney’s fees. Keeping this in mind, it is best not to file for contempt for one minor miscellaneous infraction of the court’s order. However, several small ongoing violations of the court’s order or one major violation is usually worth at least talking to an attorney about. At Coleman Legal Group, LLC our divorce and family law attorneys can examine your existing court order and your current situation and help you decide when will be the best time to file for citation for contempt.
Likewise, if you have been accused of contempt, the lawyers at Coleman Legal Group, LLC can help. It is best to have a divorce / family law attorney at your side when you have been accused of contempt. The risk of taking on such a case alone is usually not worth the possible outcome. An attorney can help you put forth the best possible defenses to an accusation of contempt and usually help you settle out of court an actual contempt violation.
Divorce and Family Law – Georgia Areas We Serve
Our Georgia divorce lawyers and family law attorneys handle cases in the following cities and communities: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Roswell, Duluth, Johns Creek, Milton, Cumming, Sharon Springs, Suwanee, Marietta, Woodstock, Sandy Springs, Kennesaw, Gainesville, Midtown Atlanta, Norcross, Lawrenceville, Kennesaw, Duluth, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Vinings, Smyrna, Buford, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Decatur, Grant Park, East Atlanta and the Virginia Highlands.
Our Georgia divorce lawyers and family law attorneys frequently handle cases for clients residing in the following counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, Cherokee, Douglas, Carroll, Coweta, Paulding, Bartow, Hall, Barrow, Walton, Newton, Rockdale, Henry, Spalding, Fayette and Clayton.
Our main office is located in Alpharetta Georgia at: 11539 Park Woods Circle, Suite 304, Alpharetta, GA 30005. We also have offices conveniently located at:
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Alpharetta, GA 30005
Phone: 770-609-1247 | Map
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GA 400, Atlanta Georgia
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Atlanta, GA 30328
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|Johns Creek, Duluth GA
11555 Medlock Bridge Road
Johns Creek, GA 30097
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Kennesaw, GA 30144
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