Georgia Post-Divorce Contempt
The terms of a court order, whether it’s a divorce decree, a child support order, a temporary order, or a protective order are legally binding on both spouses. Of course, people often refuse to comply with the terms. We know how to enforce your rights, and will continue to advocate for you. A contempt action is a civil proceeding, but it can carry jail time. Usually, the judge will order compliance with the order and may also order the party in contempt to pay the attorney’s fees and costs associated with the action. Repeat violators or an especially severe violation can carry jail time.
Proving a Contempt
The burden of proof in a contempt action lies with the spouse who filed the contempt. A contempt action can be based upon the failure to pay child support or alimony or the failure to comply with the terms of the visitation schedule. Additionally, the contempt can be based upon a property division issue. For example, one spouse might be ordered to execute a quitclaim deed so that the marital home will be titled in solely the spouse’s name who was awarded the marital home in the divorce decree. The failure to comply with these terms could be the basis for a contempt action. In order to meet the burden of proof in a contempt action, the spouse who filed the contempt must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the other spouse has willfully violated the terms of the court’s order.
Defending Against a Contempt
If you’ve been served with contempt papers, you may have a viable defense to the contempt action. Certain violations are inadvertent, and courts can be sympathetic to issues such as illness, injury and involuntary loss of employment that can make compliance with the terms of the court order nearly impossible. Often, one party or another signs a divorce decree or a child support order without fully realizing the implications it can have for years to come. This is not a defense. To successfully defend against a contempt action, you must be able to show that your violations are due to circumstances outside of your control and that you’ve otherwise made a good faith effort to comply with the terms of the court order to the best of your ability.
Hiring an Attorney
A contempt action is a serious legal matter that can carry significant consequences. The courts can even incarcerate you until you comply with the terms of an order. The Zdrilich Law Group has the experience necessary to effectively pursue or defend against a contempt action. Contact us today for a consultation.