This article discusses:
- Criteria the court uses when determining contempt of custody, visitation, or support.
- Punishment for contempt of family court orders.
- How a lawyer can help you in these situations.
When Could A Parent Be Considered In Contempt Of A Custody, Visitation Or Support Order In Massachusetts?
Parents could be held in contempt for violating any order of the court. These could be include several things, including:
- Certain decisions about education and religious upbringing;
- Failure to pay child support or alimony.
Failure to follow a court order to the letter puts you at risk of being held in contempt.
Are There Risks To Filing A Motion Seeking Contempt In A Family Court In Massachusetts?
There are risks of filing motions seeking contempt in a family court in Massachusetts.
The most visible one is the expense of the motion itself.
Beyond this, they can sometimes prompt a reciprocal response where someone is complaining about an error that the other parent is making. This can sometimes provoke cross-filing of contempt motions.
Taking this route also has the risk of making you seem unreasonable, particularly if you file contempt if someone is three minutes late for a drop off, for example. The court will not likely perceive you as the reasonable parent.
Although there are some risks, generally speaking, pursuing motions for contempt is worthwhile when there are intentional violations of court orders. Consulting a lawyer can help determine whether or not it is wise to do so in your situation.
What Are Possible Punishments And Sanctions For Contempt Of Family Court Orders In Massachusetts?
Courts in Massachusetts have several things at their disposal.
They can change:
- Temporary orders;
- The status quo in a way that’s adverse to the person who has been held in contempt.
Courts can also impose financial fines and attorneys fees that have to be paid by the person who was in contempt. Beyond this, courts can also hold you in jail if you are in contempt of paying child support and continue to refuse to correct the situation.
Do I Need A Family Law Attorney To Help Me File An Action For Contempt With The Court
Although you do not always necessarily need an attorney, having one may be extremely beneficial to you. Whether or not you need one ultimately comes down to your specific situation. If your case regards minor things, having an attorney is likely not worthwhile. However, if you are coming into significant changes to your custody or support, it is often wise to seek the support of an attorney.
Are Contempt Proceedings Always The Best Option?
Contempt proceedings are not always the best option. Dedicating the time that would otherwise be spent if taking this route may better be spent attempting to work through things directly with the other parent. Doing this can, to the extent possible, expedite mediating your disagreements and avoid going to court altogether. This is often in the best interest of everyone involved and that can save significant amounts of money in addition to time.
What Happens Once A Contempt Over Custody Visitation Or Support Order Is Filed In Massachusetts?
In general, you will be marked up for a hearing and brought in front of a judge. Then you will argue your case and the judge will make a decision as to whether anyone is in contempt, as well as what the remedy will be. What the court order eventually is is a result of this contempt finding.
Can I Hire Your Firm To Defend Me In A Contempt Of Custody, Visitation, Or Support Under Massachusetts?
We handle all these practice areas and would be happy to assist you in them if you are in need of legal counsel or representation.
For more information on Contempt Of Family Court Orders In MA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (508) 570-3037 or fill out a contact form today.