Contempt of Court in Stockton CA
Those held in contempt of court must not delay in taking proper, immediate action. Has a judge deemed you or a family member to be in contempt of court? Are you unsure about what this means for you? If you are curious about how this status can affect you, see the answers to some of the most common questions below. If you still have questions afterward, call our office today.
What Happens If You Violate a Family Court Order?
Violating a family court order is a serious offense and carries some serious penalties if you’re found guilty.
It is worth being aware that there are a couple of reasonable excuses that can excuse you for violating the order. These are;
- If you believed you had to protect someone’s health or safety, or
- If you didn’t understand you were violating the court order
If you violated the order due to either of the above because you felt like you had no other choice, rather than doing so knowingly breaking the order, it’s worth perusing these as a legal defense. However, you must allow your attorney to make this decision.
If you knowingly violated the order, however, you will have to face the charges in front of a judge and face the consequences.
What is Contempt of Court in family law court?
In a family law court, a person is in contempt of court if he or she intentionally disobeys a court order issued to them.
Examples of contempt of court in family law courts include:
- Failing to pay child support
- Violating a restraining order
- Failing to pay spousal support
- Refusing court ordered visitation rights
For example, if a spouse or parent intentionally refuses to let the other parent see their child, brings them back late, or stops making child support payments, they are in contempt of court and can have charges filed against them.
Punishment for Contempt of Court in Family Law Court
The punishments for contempt of family law court in a California are harsh. The California Code of Civil Procedure 1218(c) clearly states that for each act of contempt, the defendant faces fines up to $1,000 and/or spend up to 5 days in jail.
For first offenses, the convicted parent or spouse must also carry out community service or serve jail time up to 5 days for each count of contempt.
For second offenses, the punishment guidelines increase to a minimum of 5 days community service of jail time.
For third offenses, the punishment guidelines increase to sentencing the convicted parent or spouse to up to 10 days community service or jail time.
Whether or not the judge chooses to sentence the convicted party to community service or jail time will depend on the individual circumstances of the person and their case. The judge also has some flexibility over the amount of the fine.
What happens if you are in contempt of court for child custody?
If a judge finds you to be in contempt of court for a child custody violation, you are going to face the punishments as outlined above.
For a first offense, you face up to 5 days in jail or community service. For a second offense, it’s likely you will face the full 5 days, and for a third offense you face up to 10 days community service of jail time.
Is Contempt of Court Serious?
Contempt of court is a very serious matter, yes. There are two sides to this crime too—one is the legal side, for which the person in question is going to have to face the appropriate punishment. The second is the effect their actions have on their family.
The punishments are fairly harsh, and this reflects how serious of a crime, contempt of court is. But it’s the impact on families that is longer-lasting and often the by-product of a person’s actions that is often overlooked.
For example, if a parent stops paying child support, it can severely compromise his or her children’s standard of living. This can spiral into debts that affect other members of the family and compound an already stressful financial situation.
Likewise, breaching a court order around visitation rights can cause a lot of stress for the other parent and child. Being late, returning a child late, and not turning up at all can have some negative long-term psychological effects.
How can a Stockton family law attorney help you?
If you’re facing contempt of court charges, or any charges relating to family law, hiring a family law attorney might be the most important decision you make.
Family law is complicated, and on top of this, there are very real emotions and feelings involved with family members affected by your actions. An experienced family law attorney who handles family law cases will not only help you navigate the best possible outcome in your case, they can help limit the impact on your family members. Call us at (209) 474-2400 today to discuss the details of your case.