Contempt and California Family Law


Did you know that the family law Judge can throw you in jail if you don’t pay your child support? It's called Contempt and each month that you don’t pay your support can equal a five day stay in the county jail. And it’s not just child support that you can be slammed in the pokey for. Any time you violate a court order in a family law case, you can be cited for contempt.

Your ex can have their attorney fill out the paperwork, file it with the court, and serve it on you. Then, the family court will convene for the purpose of a criminal contempt. You have all of the rights as someone in criminal court (including the right to appointed counsel if you cannot afford one) except for the right to a jury trial.

But it’s not just support issues that can get you in trouble. If you are the custodial parent and you do not let your ex have their visitation, you can be cited for contempt.

If you are ordered to sell the house and you make no effort to do so, you can be cited for contempt. Any property order is subject to contempt proceedings.

If you violate restraining orders or family court protective orders, you can be cited for contempt.

If you don’t file your mandatory declaration of disclosure, you can be cited for contempt.

Additionally, if your Marital Settlement Agreement was merged into the final judgment, any provision in the MSA which is violated can bring about a contempt citation.

If you want to file a contempt citation against your ex, you should first seek out legal advice. You don’t want to mess up on the first try because you are barred from bringing up the issue again on the Constitutional grounds of “Double Jeopardy.”

If you have contempt charges brought against you, you should seek legal advice immediately. You are facing serious charges. In fact, a contempt conviction gets you more jail time than most first time DUI charges!

Contempt is a serious charge in a Riverside or San Bernardino family law case. It can be used as both a tool and a weapon. If you have a case that involves contempt, talk to an attorney right away.

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