Contempt of Court Proceedings in Maryland Family Law Disputes

Contempt of Court Proceedings in Maryland Family Law DisputesAfter the divorce is finally over and the judge has signed the divorce decree, both parties are obligated to comply with the order, which has the force of law. Typically, most people do obey the court’s order (even if it is with some reluctance). However, there are those who take the law into their own hands and make the foolhardy choice of not complying with the judge’s orders. In these kinds of situations, there are several options when it comes to getting the other party to comply, depending on the nature of the issue. If efforts to get the at-fault party to comply with the judge’s orders continue to fail, he or she may be held in contempt.

What kinds of actions can lead to contempt of court?

Contempt, in the context of this discussion, indicates the intentional violation of a court order. Some examples of actions or failures to act that can lead to a person being held in contempt include:

  • Violation of the parenting time agreement
  • Failure to bring the children back to the other parent when visitation time is over
  • Failure to make an effort to require that the child visit the other parent in accordance with the parenting plan
  • Failure to pay child support or spousal support
  • Refusal to sign over or deliver property as ordered by the court

Bear in mind that holding a person in contempt is not something that the court takes lightly. It is considered the most severe remedy, and at times can actually serve to heighten a conflict. Civil contempt gives the party one last chance to comply with the court order. When the party has successfully satisfied the court’s requirement, the court lifts the sanction. In Maryland, if the court must use contempt proceedings to force compliance with custody or visitation, the court also has the option to assess attorney fees and court costs against the non-compliant party.

Maryland law allows spousal support orders and child support orders to be subject to automatic withholding. The payor parent’s employer withholds the amount of the monthly obligation, which is forwarded directly to the recipient of the child support or through the child support agency.

The moral to the story here is that it never makes sense to willfully violate a court order. If your ex-spouse is the offending party, you can work with your Maryland family law attorney from the law firm of Cynthia H. Clark & Associates, LLC Our Annapolis family law team is here to protect your child’s and your interests, and offer legal advice about your custody case. You are welcome to call 410.921.2422, or to contact us to schedule a consultation today.

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