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Contempt of Court

How to Avoid Contempt in Georgia

The Law Offices of Attorney Sean R. Whitworth are dedicated to guiding their clients with their legal needs as it relates to domestic relations and DUI Law.  We charge FLAT FEES and believe in treating our clients fairly. When it comes to serious issues such as contempt of court, we have the legal expertise and experience to find solutions for our clients.

What is Contempt of Court?

Contempt of court deals with the disobedience or disregard of a court order directed at a party in litigation.  When you are subjected to an order of the court it is essential that you take this order seriously and obey the order or be proactive if you find yourself in situation in which you are unable to obey the order.  The court has a great deal of authority to enforce the orders issued out of its courts and can impose fines and/or order time in jail in an effort to seek compliance. 

A party who receives an order from the court ordering another party to perform a specific action is able to seek relief from the court in the form of a motion for contempt when the offending party refuses to comply with the court order..  In Georgia, a contempt action must be filed in the court that issued the order and as an ancillary motion to the original action the court that issued the original action will maintain jurisdiction to enforce the original order.   This simply means that when seeking to file contempt you must file it in the court that issued the order that is not being obeyed.  There is an exception now in Georgia that involves a modification of a divorce action and in this circumstance the court hearing the modification may attach the contempt from the same original order being modified. 

After the motion is filed and properly noticed on the offending party there will be a hearing in which the court will hear the evidence.   It is important that you seek legal counsel if faced with a contempt as the consequences can be severe.  If the court determines that you are willfully in contempt, meaning that you showed an utter disregard for the court’s order, you could face incarceration for a specified period or until such time as a specified action is performed, which usually involves child support payments.

This is called a purge payment and if you go to court owing substantial amounts this amount will be substantial and you may be incarcerated until such time as this payment in made.  Because of this it is important that you be proactive when unable to comply with the order of the court and file the necessary modification to prevent contempt and before you are too deep in arrears with child support or simply unable to comply for reasons beyond your control.   

In matters involving family and domestic issues contempt actions usually involve:

  1. Failure to pay child support and/or alimony or continue healthcare benefits;
  2. Failure to follow child custody and/or visitation orders;
  3. Failure to sign documents necessary to facilitate the transfer of property;
  4. Failure to pay attorney fees ordered on behalf of the other party;
  5. Failure to surrender property or allow access to property.

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