What does it mean to be “held in contempt” by the court?

Contempt is a tool used by attorneys and Family Courts to compel parties to comply with previous court orders. This gives the court power to enforce Orders and Judgments granted during divorce and custody proceedings.

Someone who violates or disobeys a court order, risks being held in contempt by the court. This can happen when someone fails to pay alimony or child support, or refusal to comply with a parenting schedule ordered by the court.

In the event one party is not following a court-appointed order, the other party can file a Complaint for Contempt. This process requires a valid court order and then testimonial evidence that the other party is willfully disobeying the order.

A finding of contempt is generally a remedial step in enforcing compliance with a court order. Usually the Court will direct that a party immediately comply and failing to do so they may punish them for their behavior if the Court believes that the failure to comply with the order was “willful”.

When the Court finds that a party is in willful contempt, the remedies may include, monetary sanctions, an award attorney fees, incarceration at the Adult Correctional Facility of Rhode Island, or any other method the Court determines is appropriate to compel the offending party to comply. When awarding monetary damages, the Court must also find that the offending party has an ability to pay the damages in order for the other party to collect.

Whether you wish to file a Complaint for Contempt or have been served with notice of a hearing based upon an allegation that you may be in contemp, our office can assist you in court. Contact us today to discuss your legal rights.