Contempt of Court
Do you have a co-parent or ex-spouse who is defying a court order? Or are you being wrongfully accused of defying a court order?
The Dadvocates represent men throughout Colorado in contempt of court proceedings.
Learn more about contempt of court in Colorado and discover how our attorneys can protect your legal rights in these circumstances...
What Is Contempt of Court?
In Colorado, people are considered to be in "contempt of court" when they fail to comply with a court order (civil contempt) or when they disrupt a legal proceeding (criminal contempt). Contempt of court often comes into play in family law when a parent or ex-spouse fails to pay child support, fails to pay spousal support, or violates a court-ordered parenting agreement.
If your co-parent or ex-spouse has violated a court order, filing a contempt of court motion may be your best legal recourse.
Contempt of Court Defined
"Disorderly or disruptive behavior, a breach of the peace, boisterous conduct or violent disturbance toward the court, or conduct that unreasonably interrupts the due course of judicial proceedings; behavior that obstructs the administration of justice; disobedience or resistance by any person to or interference with any lawful writ, process, or order of the court; or any other act or omission designated as contempt by the statutes or these rules." The definition of "Contempt" found in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 107(a)(1)
Need to File a Motion? Speak with Our Attorneys Today
It can be immensely frustrating when another party fails to comply with a court order. If you think it's time to hold your co-parent or ex-spouse accountable through a contempt of court proceeding, we invite you to request a consultation with the Dadvocates today.
Our attorneys are available to review the details of your case, help you file your motion, and represent you in court. To get started, request a consultation by contacting us online or by calling:
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Types of Contempt
Disobeying a valid court order is considered civil contempt. Examples of civil contempt include:
- Failure to pay spousal or child support
- Consistently violating a parenting plan by missing visitation time, dropping off a child late for visitation time, etc.
- Failure to refinance or sell a home, if that was ordered by the court during a divorce case
- Violating a restraining or protection order
Disrupting a legal proceeding is known as criminal contempt. Criminal contempt in the presence of a judge is direct contempt, while criminal contempt outside the presence of a judge is indirect contempt. Examples of criminal contempt include:
- Screaming, yelling, or speaking out of turn during a court hearing
- Disrespecting a judge or accusing a judge of taking a bribe
- Using a cell phone during a court proceeding
The Requirements for Contempt
Valid Court Order
A valid court order must exist for a judge to find someone in contempt. A defense the other party might try to make is that the order in question is not legally binding. This may be the case if the order was not served properly, if it has expired, or if the judge who issued the order did not have the power or jurisdiction to do so.
Knowledge of the Order
The other party must know about the order to commit civil contempt. If they never know about the order, perhaps because it was served improperly, then they have no legal obligation to comply with it.
Ability to Follow the Order
If a person is or was unable to comply with a court order, then they cannot be found to be in contempt in Colorado. For example, if a parent loses their job, they can argue they were unable to make their child support payments.
Willful Violation of the Order
A person must actually disobey an order to commit contempt. Merely threatening to disobey an order does not constitute contempt, even if it makes life difficult for the other party. Also, depending on the judge who hears your case, the violation of the order will have to be egregious to some extent. For example, if your co-parent was five minutes late to drop off your child only one time, judges won't consider that contempt. However, if the other parent is consistently and willfully late, that may be grounds for contempt charges.
Representation throughout Colorado Get Started Today
The Dadvocates represent fathers throughout Colorado from our offices in:
- Colorado Springs / El Paso County
- Crested Butte
- Glenwood Springs
- Grand Junction
- Steamboat Springs
We also offer remote representation, so no matter where you are in Colorado, our attorneys can help. If you need advice about a contempt of court situation, contact our team today.
Call the Dadvocates: (720) 749-2876
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Remedial Contempt vs. Punitive Contempt
Remedial contempt is intended to enforce the original court order. When a judge finds the other party to be in remedial contempt, the other party will have the opportunity to comply with the court order and potentially avoid other penalties like fines and jail time. A common example of this is a parent who is directed to make up for missed child support payments. Remedial contempt must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence - in other words, it must be more likely than not that the parent is committing contempt of the court.
Punitive contempt is intended to punish the offending party. It does not involve making up for past violations (in other words, a parent dodging child support wouldn't necessarily be required to pay missed payments). The penalties of punitive contempt include fines and up to six months in jail. Because the consequences are more severe than that of remedial contempt, punitive contempt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a significantly higher standard of proof.
How to File a Motion
Before you consider filing a contempt of court motion, we recommend doing everything you can to reach out to the other party and encourage them to comply with the court order. Like any legal proceeding, a contempt case can be long, stressful, and costly, and both sides can avoid a lot of headaches by abiding by the order. However, if the other party simply refuses to act reasonably, then filing a contempt of court motion may be your best available solution.
To file a motion, there are multiple forms you must fill out, which are available on the Colorado Judicial Branch's website. On these forms, you must specify:
- The date on which the order was signed and what the order entailed
- The dollar amount you are owed due to missed payments
- Why you believe the other party has the ability to comply with the order
- Why you believe the other party willfully disobeyed the order
- Whether you request remedial contempt (to force the other party to obey the order) or punitive contempt (simply to punish the other party for their violation)
Once you complete the forms, you will file them with the court. You can enlist the aid of an attorney at any point in this process. In fact, the court recommends that you consult with an attorney before filling out any paperwork.
We Are Here to Help
Contempt cases can be complicated and difficult to prove. Fortunately, the attorneys at the Dadvocates are available to guide you through the process and represent you in court. If you are a father in Colorado considering a contempt action, get in touch with us today so we can help.
A Standard Timeline of a Contempt Case
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We Defend the Accused Contact Us to Get Started
At the Dadvocates, we have a team of family law and criminal defense attorneys who regularly defend men wrongfully accused of domestic violence, child abuse, and other serious crimes. When you are unfairly served with a contempt of court citation, we can work with you to craft an effective defense strategy.
Don't wait. The sooner you contact us, the more time we'll have to build a strong case on your behalf. Get started today by requesting a consultation with our Colorado-based attorneys.
Call the Dadvocates: (720) 749-2876
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Contempt of Court FAQs
Do I need an attorney during contempt of court proceedings?
Neither party is required to work with an attorney during a contempt of court proceeding. You are able to represent yourself if you wish. However, the courts highly encourage both sides to enlist the aid of a lawyer. In punitive contempt cases, the accused party has the right to a public defender.
What if the other party doesn't show for the hearing?
If the accused party is properly served with their contempt of court citation and fails to appear at any of their hearings, the judge in the case has the power to issue a warrant for their arrest.
I missed child support payments because I lost my job. Will I be held in contempt?
Losing your job does not automatically excuse you from making your child support payments. If you lose your job and your co-parent brings contempt charges against you, the judge will review your savings and spending habits to determine if your loss of income has truly made you unable to pay child support. In other words, if you are unemployed, but you spend hundreds of dollars every month on luxury items or hobbies, then a judge will probably hold you in contempt for missing support payments.
Will the other party cover my attorney's fees if they are found in contempt?
When you request remedial contempt, a judge can force the other party to pay your "reasonable" attorney's fees associated with the contempt proceeding. What is considered "reasonable" will be up to the judge's discretion. When you request punitive contempt, however, the other party cannot be forced to pay your attorney's fees in most circumstances.
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