Complaint for Contempt
A Complaint for Contempt is an action that is filed with the Court when one party has willfully and knowingly failed to abide by the clear and unequivocal language of a Court Order.
Simply, every person has a right to ensure that the other party is abiding by all Orders entered by the Court, whether the Orders are Temporary in nature, part of a Judgment or are set by the Probate & Family Court’s Standing Orders.
As a firm we were work with clients in both bringing and defending Complaints for Contempt. There are times where an agreement is not always drafted as clearly as it should be. This can give rise to one person interpreting action or inaction as constituting contempt but the other may not see the same thing as contempt. We will assist you in presenting the facts to the Court if the dispute cannot be settled between you and the other party as it relates to court ordered obligations.
Pre-Judgment Complaint for Contempt
Many times, while clients are involved in an open proceeding, one party decides not to follow the Court Orders. In the event one party has violated an Order during the pendency of an action in the Probate & Family Court, you have the right to file a Complaint for Contempt. You do not have to wait until your next Court appearance to notify the Judge that a party has not complied with an Order, but rather you file this action and it immediately brings this violation of the Orders to the Court’s attention for resolution.
This filing is treated as a separate action to the ongoing action. However, in most cases the Contempt action can be consolidated with the ongoing action, to avoid multiple Court appearances. Additionally, the Contempt action is heard by the same Judge that is handling the open action.
For example: You are in the middle of a Divorce from your spouse, and your spouse was ordered to pay you a certain amount of money each and every Friday, for spousal support. Your spouse decides he/she is not going to pay you and does not make a payment. Your spouse would be in Contempt of the Court Order that established the spousal support amount and payment. Once you file a Complaint for Contempt you would have your spouse served with all of the documents filed with the Court and the same Judge that you are before in your Divorce action, would hear the Contempt action.
Post Contempt Judgment
Other times, parties have completed their Divorce or have reached an agreement relative to child custody, or a modification, and a Judgment has been entered by the Court. After your case has concluded in the Probate & Family Court, both parties have an obligation to abide by the Judgment entered. If one party is not abiding by a clear and unequivocal provision of the Judgment, you have a right to file a Complaint for Contempt.
For example: You have reached a full settlement of your Divorce from your spouse, and the Judgment has been issued by the Court, which states that your former spouse is to pay you a certain amount of money each and every Friday, for spousal support. Your former spouse decides he/she is not going to pay you and does not make a payment. Your former spouse would be in Contempt of the provision in the Judgment that established the spousal support amount. Once you file a Complaint for Contempt, you would have your former spouse served with all documents filed with the Court. Depending on the judicial assignments, you may or may not have the same Judge that you were before in your Divorce action.