The arrested party will sometimes have to sit in jail until their able to pay their debt accumulated as a result of their contempt or sometimes the Court will take other actions such as criminal charges. 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.
How Is Contempt Determined?
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, and (3) the accused party has willfully refused to comply with the order. Fla. R. Fam. P. 12.615(c). For example, the Court may issue that a Father pays $1000 a month for child custody, an amount the Father is more than capable to pay.
In an attempt to punish the mother for divorcing him, the father chooses not to pay the child support even though he is able. The Father is willingly refusing to not comply with a court order in which was clearly defined in the final judgment of divorce and he has the ability to comply with the order. Therefore, the Court will likely find that the father is in contempt of court. Initially, the Court will impose sanctions for contempt of court, like the attorney’s fees and costs of the opposing party which were accumulated in an attempt to get the non-conforming party to comply with the court order. If the Father continues to not comply with the order despite being held in contempt, then the Court may eventually move against him criminally.
The court is not only limited to sanctions and arrest to force a party to comply with the court order issued. Additionally, the Court holds the power to suspend the non-conforming party’s driver’s license, garnish their wages, suspend occupational and business licenses, put liens on their property, and seize their assets. Such relief is granted to the Court specifically to enforce the payment of child support under the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program.
Pursuant to Fla. Family Law Rule of Civil Procedure 12.615(b), civil contempt can be initiated by the filing of a Motion for Contempt. Any contempt motion must be served to the person in which the contempt is being alleged against. So, if a Mother is filing a Motion for Contempt for non-payment of child support, then the Father must be given notice of such hearing on the Motion for Contempt. The notice 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. The motion must recite the essential facts constituting the acts alleged to be contemptuous. Fla. R. Fam. P. 12.615(b). Once the non-conforming party has notice of the hearing regarding contempt, the court will hold a hearing in which they will decide if the non-complying parties meet the standard to be found in contempt of court. Sometimes, one order granting a Motion for Contempt is not enough to force the party to comply. You can file numerous motions in order to force the party to comply.
Often filed prior to or with a contempt motion, is a Motion for Enforcement. 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. A Motion for Enforcement is almost a warning by the court prior to moving on a Motion for Contempt. A Motion for Enforcement can also be filed contemporaneously with a Motion for Contempt, depending on the severity and the style of the attorney filing the Motions. A judge who entered a final order or the judge who took over his/her docket withholds the jurisdiction to enforce the judgment previously entered. Therefore, if a party needs to move the court to enforce a judgment then they would file the motion with the court in which the final judgment was entered. Regardless of whether you file a Motion for Enforcement or Motion for Contempt, you are entitled to the same relief; monetary judgments, garnish wages, place liens on property, and suspend professional and/or driver’s licenses, etc.
Schedule A Consultation With Horton Law Group
If your spouse is not complying with a court order or you have received notice that you are in contempt of court, you need an experienced attorney to represent your needs. 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 today, 561-299-0018 to see what relief you are entitled to today.