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Contempt Sanctions for Violations of Family Court Orders


Once the judge makes a decision in a divorce or child custody proceeding in Kentucky, that decision gets entered as an order and becomes binding on all parties before the court. Court orders can be enforced in a number of ways, ranging from the imposition of fines and attorneys’ fees to possible jail time, should the court find you in contempt. Learn more about what it means to face (or seek) a contempt sanction, below.

When court orders issued as part of a divorce or custody dispute are violated, the other party can file a motion to have the violating party held in contempt. Kentucky courts will find someone in contempt where the other party can show that the violator willfully disregarded the terms of the court order to a significant degree, and had no good reason to do so. Once these elements have been proven, however, the court can impose a wide range of sanctions on the violating party. In fact, the court can even sentence the violator to six months in jail for their failure to comply. Often, parties held in contempt are offered a period of time to “cure” the contempt before jail time is imposed. In other words, the violating party might have a period of 30 to 90 days to become caught up with past due child support before being sent to jail. Contempt can be sought not just where child support goes unpaid, but also where a parent refuses to let the other parent see the child, or relocates to another state without first seeking the co-parent or court’s consent.

Instead of risking severe court sanctions for being held in contempt, or even felony nonsupport charges, seek the court’s help before you violate a court order. For instance, you may lose your job and find yourself unable to pay the same amount of child support as you once did. Instead of letting yourself become hundreds or thousands of dollars behind on child support, an attorney can help you request a modification in the amount you owe in child support. Alternatively, if you received an offer on a job that will require you to move to a new and distant part of the state, speak with your ex first, or seek the court’s consent to relocate, before violating your child custody arrangement by moving.

If you’re facing a divorce in Kentucky and need a trustworthy, knowledgeable attorney to represent you in court, contact the Louisville family law attorneys at John Ruby & Associates for a consultation, at 502-895-2626.