Enforcement of Orders (Contempts) | Return to Index

A court has the ability to enforce its orders through its powers of contempt. If an individual has attained a court order, and a party to the order is not complying with the provisions in it, the offended party has the ability to force compliance by filing a contempt action with the court. That Court then has the ability to find whether or not an individual is willfully disobeying its instructions. Where the primary purpose is to preserve the court's authority and to punish for disobedience of its orders, the contempt is criminal. Where the primary purpose it to provide a remedy for an injured party and to coerce compliance with an order, the contempt is civil. If civil sanctions are applied, the respondent may be fined or imprisoned indefinitely, conditioned upon their compliance with the order in question.

Contempt actions are not to be taken lightly. Most courts find it offensive for a party not to follow its rulings on a matter. Given that a person's liberty and freedom are often at stake during these actions, it is imperative to properly prosecute or defend against a contempt. Should you find yourself under these circumstances, you should contact counsel as soon as possible.

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