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The 8 Court Orders Enforceable by Contempt in California

Posted by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation | Jan 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

There are few things more frustrating than dealing with a co-parent or former spouse who intentionally disregards a court order, whether it be to allow visitation, pay spousal support, or comply with any other condition of your separation or divorce. If you find yourself in this situation, contempt proceedings can force that person to obey the original order.

California law is quite clear on the subject of who can be held in contempt of court. Any person who is subject to a valid court order and is both aware of the order and able to comply faces contempt proceedings and penalties (if they willfully refuse to abide by the terms of the order).

The eight types of California family court orders listed below can all subject a violator to appropriate penalties if the party in question is determined to have acted in contempt.

  • Support: Examples of these order violations include failure or refusal to pay child and/or spousal support.
  • Child custody and visitation: This order addresses the relationship with one's children. Examples of non-compliance include one parent interfering with the other's legal visitation rights or relocating with the children in violation of a court order.
  • Attorney fees and costs: When one spouse is ordered to pay the attorney fees and costs of another and does not do so, the order is enforceable by contempt.
  • Property division: This order is considered violated if one spouse refuses to pay a specified sum or relinquish an identified asset to the other spouse.
  • Restraining and protective orders: Violating a valid restraining or protective order arising from a family court proceeding is a misdemeanor punishable by contempt.
  • ‘Declaration of Disclosure' requirements: If one spouse does not comply with the legally required ‘declaration of disclosure' during divorce proceedings, the other spouse can pursue statutory remedies against them.
  • Marital settlement agreement obligations: If one party does not meet an obligation incorporated into or enforced by a marital settlement agreement or judgment, compliance can be enforced by contempt.
  • Liability for marital debt: If a support order requires one spouse to address a marital debt by paying the other and they fail to make the specified payments, they are in contempt of court.

You can initiate contempt proceedings against your former spouse or partner if a valid family law order was in place and you have evidence that they both knew about it and willfully disregarded it. For support order violations, the contempt action must be initiated no later than three years after the missed payment was due. Action for all other family court order situations has to be brought within two years of the date that the alleged contempt occurred. If the court finds that the other party acted in contempt, potential penalties include community service, imprisonment, and/or payment of any outstanding financial obligations.

If your former significant other has violated a California family court order and jeopardized you physically, emotionally or financially as a result, please contact Ahluwalia Law P.C. today. We will be your advocate and advisor as you take steps to hold that person accountable for their actions.

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