Contempt occurs when a party has the ability to comply with a court order but refuses to comply. There are two types of contempt under Florida law; civil contempt and criminal contempt.
Civil contempt is used to compel a party to comply with a previously-entered court order. Criminal contempt is used to punish a party for their non-compliance with a court order. Civil contempt and criminal contempt have their own procedures and notice requirements that are governed by the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure and Florida Laws of Criminal Procedure. Civil contempt tends to be more commonly used in family law and post-judgment litigation.
A contempt action is started by one party filing a motion against the other; usually it is the party’s former spouse or the other parent. For example, suppose your former spouse or the other parent of your child is not paying Alimony or Child Support, as ordered in your final judgment, and has the ability to do so, you may file a motion for contempt against them. The moving party then has a right to collect discovery, including financial information, from the other party as to their ability to comply with the final judgment or court order. The court can hold the non-complying party in civil contempt and order him or her to purge the contempt by paying a specified amount by a specified date. The court can also order sanctions against the party, including jail time, if they do not comply with the purge provision.
Keep in mind that in an action for civil contempt there are specific procedural and notice requirements. The court may not enter an order of contempt without the alleged contemnor receiving notice and an opportunity to be heard.
The attorneys at Hertz • Sager have the knowledge and expertise to help you with any contempt issue you may have. If you need help with a contempt issue, contact us, using the online form on this site, or by calling us directly at 305.444.3323.