P.O. Box 77185
Colorado Springs, CO 80970-7185
Colorado Springs Family Law Attorney Steven Visser

Contempt of Court

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What is Contempt of Court?
Intentionally disobeying a court order that you knew about could be considered contempt of court. Conduct that offends the authority and dignity of the court is another standard applied to determine whether or not someone is guilty of contempt.
What are the elements of a contempt of court action?

  • A valid court order;
  • Knowledge of that order;
  • Failure to comply with the court order(s);
  • Ability to comply;
  • Willful refusal to do so.

What is remedial contempt?
A person filing a contempt of court action against another must prove the aforementioned elements, with the exception of willful refusal. The burden of proof for a remedial contempt is preponderance of the evidence and this burden must be met for each element. If a person is found to be in remedial contempt, the court can award attorney fees and can incarcerate the offending party. A remedial contempt sentence is sometimes described as the party is given the “keys to the jailhouse”, which means the party is incarcerated until that person complies with the Order that led to the contempt.
What is punitive contempt?
The same elements must be proven, but for each element, the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. Punitive means punishment, and if a person is found to be in punitive contempt, the court can incarcerate the offending party for up to six (6) months in jail.
Can someone seek both remedial and punitive remedies in a contempt action?
Yes. Although, it should be mentioned that the sentencing phase and remedies provided is within the sound discretion of the Court.
Why does contempt matter?
Court orders are just that – Orders. Court orders are not requests, or rules to follow if you feel like it. Contempt of Court is a very serious matter. Ignoring or refusing to follow court orders is done at your own peril. Contempt of Court may be the only option or remedy if someone is simply not following what the Court has directed.
What issues normally result in contempt of court allegations?

  • Failure to pay child support;
  • Failure to pay spousal maintenance (alimony);
  • Failure to pay marital debts, i.e. credit card bills, utility bills, etc.
  • Failure to indemnify (hold harmless) the other party for debts that the ex-spouse is responsible to pay;
  • Failure to have a marital asset such as a house or vehicle refinanced solely into that person’s name;
  • Failure to comply with court ordered parenting time schedules;
  • Failure to discuss joint decision issues regarding children with an ex-spouse;
  • Failure to effectively communicate why a court order is not being complied with to the other party often leads to allegations of contempt.

What if I have been served with contempt paperwork and don’t know what to do next?
You should contact my office and schedule a consultation appointment so that we may discuss together:

  • What are the specific allegations in the contempt?
  • How do those allegations compare with the court orders?
  • What are your possible defenses for why you are in this situation?
  • Do you want to attempt to resolve or settle the issues?
  • Does the other party have “Unclean Hands?”

What if I am interested in pursuing a contempt of court action against the other party?
You should contact my office and schedule a consultation appointment so that we may discuss together:

  • What is the nature of your case and what allegations do you want to assert in your contempt of court action?
  • What are the specifics of the Court Orders you want to claim the other party violated?
  • What documentation or lack thereof can you reference to support your contempt action?
  • Do you have “Unclean Hands?” Will the other party, who you want to have held in contempt, be able to assert that you are partially to blame for this problem? In the alternative, could the other party point out that there are court orders that you have not followed?

Colorado Springs Family Law Attorney Steven Visser
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