Most people are aware that child support obligations are enforceable through a motion for contempt. The "word is out" on this issue because everyone has heard of someone who went to jail for failing to pay child support. There are a number of state and federal laws that provide broad enforcement powers against obligors who fail to pay their child support.
Alimony is also enforceable by contempt because alimony is treated as a form of family support, which creates a special obligation.
All matters pertaining to time-sharing are enforceable by contempt. Although matters pertaining to parental responsibility are enforceable by the court's contempt powers, judges rarely use contempt to enforce decisions involving parental responsibility. One reason is that civil contempt is not a mechanism for "punishing" bad behavior, but rather a means to coerce compliance with court orders.
Many parties are surprised to find that an award of attorneys' fees is also enforceable by contempt.
In certain Florida districts, orders to execute documents may be enforceable by contempt, but this is not the law in all districts.
The area that may frustrate (or relieve) parties is that equitable distribution is not enforceable by contempt. If a party is seeking to enforce an award of marital assets, the party must use traditional judgment collection measures to get their money or property. Unfortunately, a party must find a Tampa family law attorney who is experienced in using the judgment collection tools that are available.
There are two types of contempt hearings, criminal and civil. In a criminal contempt proceeding, the object of the case is to punish the willful violation of a court order. In a criminal contempt proceeding, the matter is prosecuted by a state attorney. A jury trial may be available. The defendant has a right to counsel.
In a family law case, most contempt hearings are civil contempt. The purpose of civil contempt proceeding is to coerce compliance with the court's judgment or order. Incarceration is only available as a mechanism to coerce compliance, not as punishment. In other words, the non-compliant party must be able to free himself upon full or partial compliance with the order. This compliance is known as a "purge."
Other common remedies include an award of attorneys fees, damages, or a coercive fine. In a child support case, the courts can also suspend the obligor's driver's license, suspend a business license, or take a tax return. Upon request from the Florida Department of Revenue, a party's passport may also be suspended.
In addition to helping our clients enforce their obligations, we can also help you challenge a spouse that is seeking a judgment of contempt out of spite or for an improper purpose. There are defenses available against motions for contempt, including but not limited to circumstances where parties complied, substantially complied, the order was not clear, or the party did not have the present ability to comply. One of the best "defenses" to an action for contempt is good negotiation. For more information about defending against contempt charges, please contact us for an initial consultation or case evaluation. We can fight to protect your rights.
Contact Us To Protect Your Legal Rights
Contact Davis Mockler Law, P.A. to speak directly with Richard J. Mockler or another attorney who is experienced in pursuing and defending contempt proceedings in Tampa, Florida, regarding the details of your case.
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Please also feel free to schedule a visit to our office, which is conveniently located at 217 N. Howard Ave., Suite 201, Tampa, FL 33606.
A family law final judgment entered by a Florida court with proper jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter is binding on the parties.
Most parties adhere to the terms of the final judgment. But, as we all know, some parties are more than willing to disregard the law. And, in family law cases, certain parties have more than enough incentive to do so. This is especially true where enforcement of the order rests on their "stupid ex" rather than "law enforcement."
Certain aspects of the final judgment are enforceable by the Court's contempt powers. In other words, a judge can hold a party in civil or criminal contempt where they disregard the court's orders. Not all aspects of a final judgment or order are enforceable via contempt.
After a divorce or paternity case is finalized, you may find that you need additional legal counsel to seek the enforcement of an original order. You may not be receiving child support or the full amount of spousal support you are entitled to receive.
If you hire Richard J. Mockler as your Tampa family law attorney, we will take a strategic and aggressive approach to recover the full amount you are owed and work to ensure the enforcement of your final judgment or other court order. In many cases, your prior attorney was good enough to get you an agreement, but he or she doesn't have what it takes to enforce the judgment. We are experienced in protecting our clients’ right to enforce an original divorce order. Call now to learn how to achieve results in your case.
Call (813) 331-5699 to speak with an experienced Tampa, Florida divorce attorney.
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