Contempt of Court in California


A family law court in California may enforce its orders by use of Contempt. This happens when someone willfully violates a court order.  Let’s go over the elements of Contempt and what it actually takes to be found in a violation of a court order.

  1. Valid Prior Order:  For contempt to occur, there needs to be an underlying valid court order.  If the order is void, the citee (the person who violates the order) may not be found in contempt.  The order must be clear, specific and unequivocal.  The order must be in writing and either signed by the Judge and filed with the court.
  2.  Knowledge of the Order:  The citee must have knowledge of the order.  This requirement can be satisfied if the citee was present in court when the order was made or he/she was served with a copy of the order after it was entered.
  3. Ability to Comply:  Generally speaking, the Judge must find that the alleged violator had the ability to comply with the court order.  In instances of child support, this prong is slightly different in that the alleged payor of child support would have to show noncompliance with the court order (i.e. he or she did not pay the child support amount ordered).
  4. Willful Failure to Comply:  to be held in contempt, the accused party must have willfully disobeyed the court order.

Once these elements are met, your lawyer can start the process of preparing the paperwork to have this matter heard before a Judge.  If you are looking to file a Contempt matter in Orange County, Los Angeles County or anywhere else in the Southern California area, contact a Santa Ana Divorce Lawyer today.

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