Is Your Ex In Contempt?

Is Your Ex In Contempt?

Feelings and attitudes can change during the course of a divorce or child custody and support cases. Even when proceedings start out as friendly and cooperative, feelings can quickly change if the court orders changes in child support, alimony, or the division of property in a way your ex doesn’t agree with. It is important to understand what you can do if your ex refuses to comply with a court order. In certain situations, you may be able to have the court find that your ex in contempt of court.

“Contempt” is a legal term meaning a refusal to obey a judge’s order. Contempt can either be civil or criminal in nature.  The family court may use its civil contempt powers to fine or sanction your ex or have them incarcerated until they comply with the court’s order(s).


Civil contempt of court requires three things:

  • A court order that clearly defines an obligation or requirement,
  • An ability on the part of the ordered/obligated individual to comply with that order, and
  • A willful refusal to comply with the order.


Civil contempt occurs when the court makes an order and a party is able, but refuses, to comply with that order. A finding of civil contempt, and the accompanying punishment, is designed to encourage one party to comply with the order. Before being found in civil contempt, it is important that the court determines that the order was clear and that the party that refused to comply had the ability to comply, but deliberately and voluntarily chose not to obey the order. The obligated individual must be capable of complying, and merely unwilling, to be found in contempt.

Is Your Ex In Contempt?

A finding of civil contempt is not automatic, even if there is an order is in place and your ex has failed to comply. A motion must be filed with the court, and a hearing must be held. In order to prove that your ex is in contempt, sworn testimony must be presented in court and ruled on by your judge. That means that it is not enough to simply accuse the other party of failing to comply with a court’s order. Sworn evidence must be presented in court before a judge.

If you believe that your ex has not followed the court’s orders, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who knows how to properly bring the issue before the court. Evidence must be presented in accordance with the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and Florida Evidence Code to be considered in determining whether an order of contempt is proper. A skilled attorney can help you assert your rights and/or your child’s rights contained within the court’s order. Sara Jones Law, P.A. is here to help. If there is an order in your case that your ex is refusing to follow, contact us to set up your free consultation about how we can bring justice to you!

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