One of the most important things that divorcing couples should know is that the terms of a divorce resolution are legally binding. This means that violating them can have substantial legal consequences, in some cases including charges of contempt of court. If you believe that you may be facing such charges, an attorney can help you avoid them or defend against them.

What Happens When a Person is Charged With Contempt of Court?

Typically, contempt of court charges come about after one of the parties to the divorce files a petition for enforcement of the divorce order against the other party. This may happen after a person fails to pay court-ordered spousal maintenance or child support, or a party violates the terms of the allocation of parenting time or parental responsibilities.

A person who is found to be in contempt of court may be subject to a variety of penalties, including:

  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Periodic imprisonment for up to six months
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Conditions or restrictions on parenting time
  • An order to compensate the other party financially for delinquent payments, attorney fees, and court costs

How to Avoid Being Charged With Contempt

In many cases, the easiest way to avoid being charged with contempt of court is to simply follow the terms of your divorce decree. However, doing so can be difficult depending on the circumstances. For example, if you have lost your job or a major source of income since your divorce, you may struggle to make child or spousal support payments in the ordered amount. A change in your work schedule might also make it challenging to follow your original parenting time schedule.

In such cases, you should try to be proactive in order to avoid violating the court order. You may be able to talk to your former spouse about your difficulties and work out a temporary solution, or even an agreement on a permanent modification that you can file with the court for approval. If you are not on good terms with your spouse, you can also petition the court individually for a modification.

Even if your former spouse has already started enforcement proceedings, you will typically have the opportunity to rectify the situation before facing more serious penalties. An attorney may be able to help you negotiate a resolution to avoid a trial. Alternatively, if you believe that you were wrongfully accused of a violation and your former spouse is adamant about taking action against you, an attorney can help you present evidence and testimony to contest a charge of contempt.

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

At Mevorah & Giglio Law Offices, we know that legal challenges often continue after the divorce is finalized. Whether you need a modification to your divorce order or representation in an enforcement dispute, we can help you protect your best interests. For a free initial consultation on your case, contact a Lombard family law attorney at 630-932-9100.