Divorce is rarely a neat and tidy process. When you’re embroiled in what feels like the battle of your life, it’s very easy to feel hurt and be temporarily blinded by your anger. A very common response to the situation you’ve found yourself in is to either blatantly retaliate against your spouse, or to engage in what you think is covert, passive-aggressive behavior.
The reason that prompted your marriage to end, the dividing of property, fights over custody and visitation, dealing with the issue of child support, having to involve friends or family – all of this can mount up and potentially cause you to react in an unhealthy manner. No matter how good you think it feels to “needle” your spouse, it is likely to have much worse consequences for you.
If you violate a court order, you could find yourself in contempt. Being held in contempt of a court order is a serious matter. Depending upon what the violation entails and just how egregiously the judge feels you have behaved, your punishment can be harsh. The judge could order you to pay attorneys’ fees and costs to your spouse, or even have you spend a little time in jail if the contempt involves a criminal violation or if you refuse to do something that the Court has ordered you to do.
Here are at some of the most frequent violations of court orders that can land you in contempt:
Failure to pay child support. Not paying your child support on time or in full doesn’t hurt your spouse: it hurts your children. If the other parent is misusing child support or has falsified a financial declaration to receive more than you should have been required to pay, you should have your attorney address that immediately. Failing to pay on a “hunch” or out of spite can lead to contempt.
Failure to pay alimony. Similar to child support, when the spouse who was ordered to pay spousal support fails to do so, it can place the spouse receiving the support in financial straits. Being petty by paying in alternate forms of currency, like using foreign currency or paying entirely in rolls of coins, can also land you in contempt. You should also resist the urge to write petty, although momentarily satisfying, epithets in the “for” field on the check. Writing “greedy” or other similar insults can get you in trouble with the Court, including for contempt.
Visitation denial. This often goes hand-in-hand with the other parent not making his or her child support payments. The parent who didn’t receive the financial support returns the favor in kind by withholding the child from the other parent to make a statement, and to punish him or her. It can become a vicious cycle that places you both in contempt and, again, your child is the one who loses the most.
Not returning your child from visitation. Similar to withholding a child from attending visitation, when a parent who is exercising his or her visitation fails to return their child to the primary custodial parent, it will inevitably cause a problem. Sometimes it may be a parent regularly returning the child late, or taking the child out of state to a family gathering extending beyond the visitation schedule. There have even been extreme instances where the child was taken outside the country and abducted during visitation, not to return for years.
Failure to execute marital property transfers. Certain assets, debts, and property may come with documentation that must be executed in to legally transfer it. Retirement accounts may require forms be completed and signed. Real estate transfers might entail having a quit claim deed drafted and executed in addition to completing any refinancing steps. Cars have titles to be signed over and may need to be refinanced, as well. Delaying any part of the process of transferring property to the person it was awarded can result in you being held in contempt. Additionally, delaying transfers for certain assets can pose tax issues that may need to be sorted out later for more money.
Violation of a court order is serious, and you could find yourself paying dearly for that moment of revenge. To learn more about your rights due to a possible contempt issue, speak with the insightful Nashville divorce attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC. To reserve an in-person or video consultation, call our office at 615-454-9899, or reach out to us through our contact page.