What Is Contempt In Divorce or Separation Cases?

Family law cases can often be contentious with one or both parties trying to tarnish their spouse’s reputation in order to win the case. Sometimes, one side threatens to file a Motion for Contempt against the other. What is contempt in divorce or separation cases?


Contempt is a serious issue in family law cases. Contempt issues occur after there has been an Order entered, either by a judge or by consent of the parties, and one party does not follow the terms of the Court Order. Common contempt issues arise when one party fails to pay child support or alimony, or does not adhere to a custody schedule entered by the Court.

If the opposing party is doing any of these actions, you can file a contempt motion. The opposing party will then have a chance to file a response to your motion, explaining why they believe they should not be held in contempt of court.

It is a common fear that if you feel it is in the best interest of the child to change a court-ordered custody schedule or your financial situation has changed, leaving you unable to afford the child support payments, you will have no option but to violate the court order. This potentially can open yourself up to being held in contempt of court. In order for a party to be held in contempt, the judge must find that they willfully disobeyed a court order.  

However, to avoid being held in contempt in divorce or separation cases, you may often file a motion to modify the custody schedule or child support payments. This is not a guarantee, so it is best to talk to a family law attorney before taking this approach. If you have had a contempt motion filed against you, we can help you respond to the motion and defend you in court. 

If you feel the other party is in violation of a court order in your case, such as failing to pay alimony or child support or if they violated the custody schedule, at SeiferFlatow, we can file a motion on your behalf. Contact us today to see if your spouse is in contempt.