Resolving Contempt Issues In Family Court Modification And Enforcement

Like any other court, Georgia family court judges have the power to enforce their orders through the contempt process. Any party found to be in unexcused and continuing disobedience of a court's order can be held in contempt of court. This applies as much to the parent in default of a child support obligation as it does to a litigant who fails to turn over documents, or to make a child available for visitation, or to the criminal defendant who willfully refuses to pay a fine.

Contempt And Other Family Matters Explained

The purpose of civil contempt sanctions in family court is not to punish a wrongdoer, but to compel compliance with a court's ruling. Nevertheless, the sanctions available on a finding of contempt case can look a great deal like punishment: jail time, fines and the payment of an opponent's attorney fees. Fines and jail time can continue until the contempt is purged, ordinarily by strict compliance with the court's order.

At the Teiger Law Center, P.C., we advise family court litigants on either side of the contempt issue — people who need to protect essential rights by putting the enforcement machinery of the court into motion, and people who get caught in the machine.

An especially difficult situation comes up time and again when someone falls behind in child support or alimony payments. While the person in default has the right to seek an order of modification to reduce the amount of the payments, the person entitled to receive the support can counterclaim with a motion to show cause why the defaulting party should not be held in contempt.

The implied threat of a contempt proceeding can by itself discourage someone from seeking a required modification, while only leading to greater amounts of arrears. The day of reckoning will surely come, so it is better to be sure-footed in modifying the existing obligation and structuring a practical mechanism for catching up or deflecting the arrears.

You Want Strong Legal Counsel. Look To Our Local Law Firm.

Attorney Tracy Teiger has nearly 30 years of experience with difficult modification and enforcement problems involving former spouses, unmarried parents and disputes about violations of domestic violence protective orders. Our law firm can help people facing the threat of contempt by resolving noncompliance problems while minimizing exposure to sanctions. For people who need to consider contempt as an enforcement alternative, we can show you how and when to use it to maximum positive effect.

For additional information about the hard decisions you might need to make when problems come up in the performance of family court obligations, contact us at our Cumming or Alpharetta law offices by calling 678-374-7645 or 800-780-2275.