Contempt of court in Georgia is not something that should be taken lightly. It occurs for a variety of reasons, resulting in different types of penalties. You have probably seen a dramatic interpretation of contempt of court in a legal TV show or movie. However, it does happen fairly often within the realm of family law.
What is Contempt of Court?
So, what exactly is “contempt of court” in Georgia? The most common type with family law cases is if you willfully or intentionally do something that is in violation of a court order. Court orders outline what rules the judge orders you to follow for your case, whether it’s involving child support, child custody, visitation, spousal support, or a protective order. Contempt can either be direct (occurring within the court) or indirect (happening outside the presence of the court).
Additionally, there is criminal contempt and civil contempt. While civil contempt is an attempt to encourage someone to comply with their court order, criminal contempt is punishment for a non-compliant person.
For example, let’s say you are ordered by the judge to pay $600 in child support payments monthly. You intentionally miss several payments. Your child’s other parent can notify the court that you have missed your payments, and you will be held in contempt. There are several other examples of family law contempt, including:
- Missing spousal support payments
- Violating a protective order
- Disrupting or preventing mandatory child visitation
- Deviation from the court-ordered custody agreement
What Happens If I Am In Contempt of Court?
If you are found in contempt of court in Georgia, you can receive penalties for violating the order. These can include paying fines and the opposing party’s attorneys fees, losing privileges originally outlined in the court order, or and/or jail time. These are often referred to as sanctions. This punishment usually continues until you cease your original offending behavior.
Child Support Contempt
As mentioned above, failure to pay child support falls within contempt of court in Georgia. If you fail to pay your child support, your child’s other parent can request that you be found in civil contempt. You will then be summoned to court for an opportunity to defend yourself. If you don’t show up to court, a warrant can be issued for you to be arrested. But, even if you do report to court, you can be sentenced to jail time for violation of your court order.
Georgia Contempt Attorneys
If you have been accused of contempt, or if you think you could accuse your spouse of contempt, contact a family law attorney immediately. No matter your situation, you will want fearless representation in your corner. Contact Hall & Navarro today to discuss your options during a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.