Being in Contempt of a Court Order in Family Law

Beings Contempt of a Court Order in Family Law

In a family law case, if the court makes an order, all parties are legally obligated to follow it. For example, a court order may require the parents to share custody of their children and abide by a certain schedule for pick-ups and drop-offs. If parents don’t obey the court order, they can receive a penalty.

Contempt motions are one of the remedies the court can use where a party breaches a court order. Contempt generally means that a person is acting in a way that interferes with or disrespects the court’s authority. Rule 31 of the Family Law Rules governs contempt of court in family law proceedings and allows the court to enforce a contempt motion even if another penalty is available.

The Test for Contempt

In order for a claim of contempt to be made out, the following three elements must be established:

1. The order of the breach tells whoever read it what should and shouldn’t be done when in a situation.

2. The party that breached the order must have done so deliberately and willfully. For example, if a parent demonstrates that they were acting in the best interests of the children and not with the intention of breaching the court order for their own interests, the court will be unlikely to make a finding of contempt; and

3. The evidence must show contempt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Penalties for being in contempt of a court order in family law

If the court finds that a person is in contempt of the court, it may order that the person:

1. Be imprisoned for any period of time and on any conditions deemed;

2. Pay a fine in any amount that is appropriate;

3. Pay an amount to a party as a penalty;

4. Do anything else that the court decides is appropriate;

5. Not do what the court forbids them to do;

6. Pay costs in an amount decided by the court; and

7. Obey any other order.


Contempt is a remedy that should be used sparingly and only as a last resort. Remedies to consider in family law cases are requesting a case conference or settlement, enforcing the order and costs, directing the situation or changing an order.

Breaching a court order and being found in contempt by the court is a very serious matter that can have severe consequences. The lawyers at Tailor Law understand these concerns and are here to help clients ensure that both parties are following the terms of court orders.

If you are looking for more information about being in contempt of a family law order, do not hesitate to contact us and one of our experienced Family Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.

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