What can be done when a court order is not obeyed? For example, what can be done after a divorce judgment when an alimony or child support order has not been paid in a timely fashion or not paid at all? How about when there are unreimbursed medical expenses owed or court ordered visitation has been withheld?

The most common enforcement mechanism in Connecticut is a motion for contempt.

While some variation in wording exists, a contempt motion essentially requires a judge to find that the Respondent (the individual cited for contempt) had 1) notice of 2) a valid court order and 3) the order has been disobeyed.

Once these elements have been established, the Respondent has the opportunity to present defenses as to why he or she should not be held in contempt. In theory, there are a number of defenses available to a Respondent but, in practice, there are only two which are used with any regularity.

1) Inability to comply with the order. If a Respondent can satisfy a judge that the noncompliance was not willful this will avoid a contempt finding. For example, a recent job loss, a lack of other financial resources and efforts to borrow the money are often strong arguments against a contempt finding of a financial order. However, the judge will typically inquire as to whether the job loss was truly involuntary and what, if any, efforts have been to made to gain employment since.

2) Uncertainty as to the terms of the order. If the terms of the order are ambiguous a Respondent may persuade a judge that the noncompliance was not willful. A “good faith” argument that there was legitimate misunderstanding may therefore avoid a contempt finding. On the other hand, if the divorce terms are reasonably clear or if the terms are subject to a reasonable interpretation, you may catch the judge’s ire by making an argument where no bona fide dispute exists.

Possible penalties for being found in contempt include payment of the moving party’s legal fees and, in the case of repeated or blatant noncompliance, incarceration.

I represent clients involved in contempt proceedings throughout Fairfield County including Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Trumbull, Stratford, Bridgeport, Westport, Weston, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

Contact me online or call my Fairfield office at (203) 259-5251 or my Stamford office at (203) 356-1475 today schedule your consultation.



© 2018 by Brian D. Kaschel Law Office. All rights
reserved. Disclaimer l Site Map l Privacy Policy l
Website by Six7 Marketing