Family Law

Contempt and Enforcement Proceedings

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If you have a Court Order in place wherein the other party is required to comply with that Order and they are not complying, you can file an enforcement action or contempt action, or both, against that party. 

Examples include:

  • Failure to comply with a Parenting Plan or timesharing agreement 
  • Failure to pay child support 
  • Failure to pay Court ordered spousal support 
  • Failure to pay Court ordered attorney fees 
  • Failure to pay Court ordered expenses for the minor child’s medical, school, or extracurricular activities 
  • Violation of a No Contact Order 
  • Failure to communicate on Talking Parents or Our Family Wizard, if the Court ordered you to do so, and the list goes on….

In Ex parte Crews, the Florida Supreme Court defined contempt as “Any act which is calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct the court in the administration of justice, or which is calculated to lessen its authority or its dignity.” Ex parte Crews, 173 So. 275, 279 (1937). This includes failure to comply with a Court Order.  

Another explanation of contempt of Court is simply a party in which an order is issued against does not comply with the terms within the Order. For example, you are ordered to pay $100.00 in alimony to your ex-wife every month. You fail to pay her $100.00 a month and instead pay $25.00 per month, you could be found in contempt of Court. “Courts have the authority to enforce a judgment by the exercise of their contempt powers.” Parisi v. Broward County, 769 So. 2d 359 (Fla. 2000). 

What is contempt of Court?

There are two types of contempt in Florida, criminal contempt, and civil contempt. It is exactly how it sounds; civil contempt means a Court can order you to pay fines, attorney fees or some other monetary form of compliance. Criminal contempt means a Court can execute a Writ for your arrest and you will be incarcerated until you comply with the Court Order. Pursuant to Fla. R. Fam. P. 12.615(f) “notwithstanding the provisions of this rule, at any time after a contemnor is incarcerated, the court on its own motion or motion of any party may review the contemnor’s present ability to comply with the purge condition and the duration of incarceration and modify any prior orders.” Civil contempt is often enforced and initiated by the Court whereas criminal contempt is often brought by the prosecutor’s office.

In order to determine if a party is in contempt of Court, the Court must analyze if the Order allegedly not being obeyed has 

(1) clearly defined an obligation, 

(2) the accused party has the ability to comply with the Order,

(3) the accused party has willfully refused to comply with the Order. (Fla. R. Fam. P. 12.615(c)). 

For example, the Court may order a party to pay $1,000 per month for child support. The father does not pay. The mother files an enforcement and contempt action. If the Court finds the Order to be clear and if the father can make the $1,000 monthly support payment and is willfully refusing to do so, the Court will likely hold the father in contempt. The Court can order the father to comply, pay attorney fees or issue a Writ for the arrest of the father until he pays. Contempt of Court is not something to take lightly. If a contempt or enforcement action has been filed against you, please contact the Horton Law Group, P.A. for a free consultation so we can advise you or your rights and options. 

Contempt Proceedings 

Under Fla. Family Law Rule of Civil Procedure 12.615(b), civil contempt can be initiated by the filing of a Motion for Contempt.  All contempt Motions must be served on the person who is allegedly in contempt of Court. 

An evidentiary hearing will be set on the contempt Motion. The Notice of Hearing served on the alleged contempt or must specify the time and place of the hearing and must contain the following language: “FAILURE TO APPEAR AT THE HEARING MAY RESULT IN THE COURT ISSUING A WRIT OF BODILY ATTACHMENT FOR YOUR ARREST. IF YOU ARE ARRESTED, YOU MAY BE HELD IN JAIL UP TO 48 HOURS BEFORE A HEARING IS HELD.” At the hearing, the Court will rule on the contempt Motion. We highly encourage you to retain counsel for these types of proceeds as the penalties can be severe. Whether you will be found in contempt, sometimes depends on who you chose to represent you. The principal partner at the Horton Law Group, P.A., Attorney, Sommer C. Horton, is an experienced and aggressive litigator. She is highly regarded for her creativeness, strategic judgment, and her uncanny ability to deliver persuasive legal arguments in the courtroom. She has a tremendous skill for being an aggressive advocate for her clients, while being one who understands and appreciates how trying litigation can be, thus, she is extremely sensitive to her clients’ needs. Ms. Horton is passionate about the law and believes in seeking justice for her clients in an ethical and economic manner. Ms. Horton fights for each one of her clients, every step of the way. If the case cannot be settled out of Court, Ms. Horton will be litigating your case at trial.

The Horton Law Group, P.A. is a boutique civil litigation law firm that only takes on a limited number of cases so that personal attention can be given to every client. Make the right call – schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Ms. Horton. You can make an appointment by calling 561-299-0018 or emailing legalsupport@hortonlawgroup.com

Enforcement Proceedings 

In addition to contempt, you can file a Motion for Enforce a party to comply with a Court Order. A Motion for Enforcement is a plea to the Court to get the non-conforming party to comply with the Order or to enforce the terms of the agreement (Martial Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan). Essentially, you can file a Motion to Enforce any term in the Final Judgment, Court Order, Marital Settlement Agreement or Parenting Plan, if the other party is not complying with the terms. If your Motion will be granted, and you may be entitled to attorney fees from the non-complying party. It is important to retain an attorney that is extremely experienced in the family laws of Florida as such matters often relate to the best interest of your child. Horton Law Group, P.A. has close to two decades of experience in Family law, including but not limited to contempt of family law Orders. Call 561-299-0018 to see what relief you are entitled to today. 

Why hire the Horton Law Group, P.A?

The outcome of your case ultimately depends on who you chose to represent you. The principal partner at the Horton Law Group, P.A., Attorney, Sommer C. Horton, is an experienced and aggressive litigator. She is highly regarded for her creativeness, strategic judgment, and her uncanny ability to deliver persuasive legal arguments in the courtroom. She has a tremendous skill for being an aggressive advocate for her clients, while being one who understands and appreciates how trying litigation can be, thus, she is extremely sensitive to her clients’ needs. Ms. Horton is passionate about the law and believes in seeking justice for her clients in an ethical and economic manner. Ms. Horton fights for each one of her clients, every step of the way. If the case cannot be settled out of Court, Ms. Horton will be litigating your case at trial.

The Horton Law Group, P.A. is a boutique civil litigation law firm that only takes on a limited number of cases so that personal attention can be given to every client. Make the right call – schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Ms. Horton. You can make an appointment by calling 561-299-0018 or emailing legalsupport@hortonlawgroup.com.

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