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Can I Be Held In Contempt During My Divorce Proceedings?

In family law and divorce proceedings the Court will often have to issue rulings that effect the amount of child support paid, child custody and the division of assets. It is important to note that these rulings aren’t just issued at the conclusion of the divorce proceedings. The Court issues temporary rulings prior the end of the case as well as ruling through a divorce decree. Regardless, the point of the Court issuing a ruling on these matters is to have the parties abide by it’s decision. Further, depending on the circumstances, there can be significant consequences to either party that disobeys the Court by not following the order.

O.C.G.A §19-6-28 addresses the powers maintained by the Superior Court to enforce it’s orders. In particular, O.C.G.A §19-6-28 states that Court has the power to punish the party in a proceeding that violates any order of the Court by holding them in contempt. Aside from the impact on future rulings on issues not yet addressed by the Court, a finding of contempt by the Court could result in fines and or jail time for the violation. Further remedies include garnishment of wages in cases where monies are not paid. Some examples of circumstances where contempt motions arise include:

  • willful failure to surrender property
  • a party’s refusal to abide by a child custody order
  • a party’s refusal to abide by a child support order
  • a party’s refusal to pay attorney’s fees as directed by the Court

Although a party’s failure to abide by the Court’s order is typically followed by significant consequences, there are some instances where the Court will entertain reasonable explanations for not following it’s order. For instance, the non compliant party can assert that they failed to make the requirement payments because of the loss of a job or significant reduction in income. Other defenses to a contempt order include assertions that the non compliant party relied upon an agreement between the parties or that some unforeseen event caused them to be in violation.

The Court is not unreasonable and there are some instances where there is an entirely reasonable explanation as to why an order has been violated. Our firm has represented clients seeking to have an order enforced, whether it is for child support, child custody or spousal support. Additionally, we have also represented clients who have had to defend against an assertion that they were in violation. In either instance it is important to remember that the best outcome requires the assistance of an attorney that specializes in these matters. Our law firm represents clients in the areas of divorcechild custody, child support, spousal support, adoptions and modifications. We serve the Douglasville, Atlanta and Marietta areas. Contact our law firm today for a consultation.