What Is Contempt of Court in Family Law Cases?


Divorce can be a long, drawn-out process. The goal is to come to an amicable agreement and terms that ensure a healthy future for all parties involved. In some cases, however, a court order isn’t enough to ensure your ex-spouse follows the terms of the divorce.

Steps for Filing a Motion for Civil Contempt

In cases where your ex-spouse violates a court order, you have the option to file a motion for civil contempt. There are several steps involved in the process:

  • Explain the Issue: In the motion, you need to outline what your ex-spouse has done to violate the court order. Whether they aren’t paying child support or alimony, or if they’re denying access to your child during your scheduled parenting time, you need to explain the situation in writing.
  • Serve the Papers: You need to serve the motion you are filing with the court to your ex-spouse to put them on notice of the legal action you are taking.
  • Wait for the Court Date: After filing the motion with the court, they will set a hearing date. You will once again need to serve notice to your ex-spouse. Be prepared for the hearing, because it is on you to prove your ex-spouse has failed to comply with the court order. You will be required to prove that you have a valid court order that has been approved and signed by a judge, that your ex-spouse has failed to comply with the court order, and that your ex-spouse had the ability to comply.

At the hearing, your ex-spouse will have the chance to prove an inability to comply with the court order. If they are unable to do so, the judge will hold them in contempt and may order sanctions to compel them to follow through. Other agencies, like Florida Child Support Enforcement (CSE), can assist in enforcing the court order through several means, including:

  • Fines
  • Payment of attorney’s fees
  • Withheld income from paychecks
  • Place liens on vehicles or other personal property and order their sale
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Professional, recreational, or occupational license suspension
  • Revoke or deny applications for a passport
  • Garnish money from accounts
  • Freeze accounts
  • Incarceration for up to a year until overdue child support is paid

At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our Tampa family law and divorce attorneys understand how confusing and distressing these disputes can be. It’s our Job to assist you through the process by helping you to understand your options in order to make the best decisions for your family. Contact us today, and we’ll listen to your story at no cost to you.