What Is Contempt of Court in Family Law For Failure to Pay a Judgment?

What is contempt of court in family law for failing to pay a judgment? The answer to that question is a bit complex. Here, we’ll examine some of the common types of contempt and the consequences of not meeting them. For instance, direct contempt, the Defendant’s right to counsel, and the penalties for contempt. But what about indirect contempt?


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Direct contempt

Unlike civil cases, which are generally deemed unenforceable, family law contempt can be constructive, which means the consequences of failing to comply with a court order are only perceived by the other side. But even with constructive contempt, a judgment can have significant consequences for the parties involved. There’s an old saying that goes, “It’s easier to get permission than forgiveness.” That’s certainly true in some situations. Those parties might not want to comply with the court order, and that’s the reason a judgment may have to be affirmed.

A judgment involving child support and parenting time is the most common cause for a contempt hearing in family law. If either party fails to meet the requirements of the judgment, the judge may decide to punish the offending party by imposing a fine or prison time. Even worse, the judge may order the violating party to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees and costs.

Writ of habeas corpus

When it comes to family law, a Writ of Habeas Corpus is an important tool for challenging an imposed sentence. This is because it allows a person convicted of a crime to contest the calculation of his or her time served without incurring any fees. A Writ of Habeas Corpus can also be used to challenge the custody of a minor child.

To successfully file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, the petitioner must establish that the judgment was unconstitutionally entered, or that the court’s decision was unjust. If a child is in foster care or adopted, the parents have the standing to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The parents must have custody of the child for at least ninety days or 180 days. Otherwise, further proceedings may be necessary.

Defendant’s right to counsel

The defendant appealed a civil contempt determination. The order, issued in a matrimonial proceeding, requires the defendant to deposit the proceeds of a property sale in escrow, subject to a prior equitable distribution determination in favor of the plaintiff. However, the defendant argues that he did not violate any court order by transferring the property. Thus, the January 2010 order was valid.

The defendant argues that the Supreme Court erroneously drew a negative inference from the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. He maintains that he had to choose between the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and the need to protect his finances from criminal contempt. While he was under oath at the joint hearing for criminal and civil contempt, he avoided the civil contempt because he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.


Penalties for contempt of court for failing to pay a judgment can include fines, imprisonment, or both. The court may also order a party who is in contempt to pay costs and reasonable attorney’s fees. Unlike other types of contempt, though, these penalties are not based on a person’s ability to pay. A court can also impose a condition that a person must complete to avoid a jail sentence.

While there are certain situations in which a court can impose both a criminal and civil contempt sanction, the supreme court does not have jurisdiction to review the judgment of a district court imposing a civil or criminal contempt penalty. This is because, as noted above, the defendants failed to appeal within 45 days of the contempt order. Moreover, it is up to the judge to determine the extent of the contempt sanction.