Court orders and final judgments covering time-sharing, visitation, support and other divorce issues have the force of the law behind them. Except in very extreme circumstances, parties must adhere closely to the terms of their orders, or they could be found in contempt of court. Unfortunately, parties are not always willing or able to comply, so it becomes necessary either to enforce or modify the order. At Weiner & Weiss, LLC in Boca Raton, our lawyers represent people seeking to enforce court orders related to divorce, custody and visitation rights, as well as those defending against contempt and enforcement actions.
In Ex parte Crews, 173 So. 275, 279 (1937), the Florida Supreme Court defined contempt as “Any act which is calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct the court in the administration of justice, or which is calculated to lessen its authority or its dignity.” Per that ruling, contempt can be direct, meaning that the act is committed in court or in the presence of an acting judge, or indirect, meaning that it occurs outside the confines of the court but nevertheless hinders the court’s administration of justice.
Florida law also divides contempt of court into criminal and civil offenses. When a person is accused of criminal contempt, the rules of criminal procedure apply and the court’s purpose is to determine guilt and punish the offender. In a civil contempt case, the court applies civil rules of procedure. The purpose of the proceeding is to determine whether the accused person is liable civilly and, if so, to impose remedies that compel the party to “purge the contempt” by complying with the court order.
In family law matters, the aggrieved party seeks a finding of civil contempt against the party who is out of compliance with the court order. The court examines the facts to see if the three elements necessary for contempt are present:
If the evidence proves contempt, the court imposes sanctions. However, since contempt is a willful act, a party who does not have the ability to fulfill the terms of an order cannot be found in contempt.
Once the judge has a party in court for a civil contempt hearing, the judge can initiate criminal contempt proceedings if the party’s actions warrant.
To enforce a prior court order or final judgment for time-sharing (child custody and visitation), child support or alimony, you may file a Motion for Civil Contempt/Enforcement. In the motion, you must explain what the other party has failed to do, such as having denied access to your child during scheduled parenting time or having failed to pay child support.
Along with filing the motion with the county court where your case is being handled, you must arrange for service of process on the other party. This puts the party on notice that you are taking legal action.
After you file the Motion for Civil Contempt/Enforcement, the court sets a hearing date. Once you know the time and date of the hearing, you must again serve notice on the other party. At the hearing, you have the burden of proving that the other party has not obeyed the court order or final judgment, and the other party has the opportunity to show compliance with the order or an inability to comply. If the judge finds the other party in contempt, the judge may order appropriate sanctions to compel compliance, such as:
The attorneys at Weiner & Weiss, LLC have helped many clients enforce court orders for time-sharing and support payments; we also have experience defending people who are unable to comply with a court order after divorce.
It is the law in Florida that every child has the right to financial support from both parents until the age of 18 and that child support must be paid on time and in the full amount. If a parent is not complying with a child support order, the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program uses many tools to ensure payment. These include:
We help clients interface with the Florida Child Support Enforcement Program to ensure that child support enforcement is handled appropriately. We also help parents who have been hit with sanctions.
If you need help enforcing child support payments or time-sharing arrangements, please contact Weiner & Weiss, LLC in Boca Raton. We can also help if you have been served with a Motion for Civil Contempt/Enforcement in Florida. Call us at (561) 391-1333 or contact our office online to schedule a consultation.
"Could not have asked for a better attorney. I dealt with an extremely difficult and tedious divorce. Gary and his team were always thorough and fully prepared. Always at the top of their game and always treated me as a top priority as they do all their clients. Recommend Gary Weiner as the attorney to handle your divorce if you need it done right!!!! " - Zachary B.,★★★★★
"Scott Weiss is always knowledgeable and reachable when I have a question. I have referred clients to him and will continue to refer clients!" - Ian S.,★★★★★
"Scott is a professional who is well-liked, collegial in a highly adversarial field. He has been mentored by an excellent lawyer and although still a younger lawyer he is fast gaining experience in complex matrimonial matters. He has moved beyond second chair to handling matters on his own. He is a pleasure to work with." - Anonymous,★★★★★
"Scott is not only a great lawyer, but he is also very involved in the community." - Anonymous,★★★★★