Being in Contempt of a Court Order in Family Law

When the court makes an order in a family law case, all parties are legally obligated to follow the terms of that order. 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 the parents fail to follow what is required in the order, there are various penalties that can be ordered by the court.

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 that was breached must clearly state what should and should not be done. This requirement ensures that parties will not be found in contempt where the order is unclear;

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 that should be considered before bringing a contempt motion in family law cases include requesting a case conference or settlement conference, bringing a motion for enforcement of the order and costs and bringing a motion for directions or to change or clarify the terms of 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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