Contempt Of Court In Your Denver Divorce
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After having gone through a divorce or once you have some orders from the court, you may at some point find yourself on either end of a contempt of court action if one of the parties is not complying with the orders.
To begin the process, you should get in touch with your attorney to discuss the best way to move forward. It will vary depending on each person’s individual situation and an experienced attorney will know how to proceed. In some situations, results can be achieved through alternative methods such as mediation, requesting a status conference with the courts, or filing various motions without the need to file a motion for citation for contempt of court
If you decide to move forward with filing for a contempt citation, your attorney will fill out the necessary court forms, have them signed and notarized, and file the motion with the courts. Once filed, the court will issue a citation with a date and time at which you will be compelled to appear in court for a quick advisement hearing. Once this hearing is set, you must have the citation served to the other party prior to the hearing date. Both parties are usually required to attend this hearing. At the advisement hearing, the person against whom the contempt is issued will be required to plead guilty or not guilty. If the contemnor fails to appear, a bench warrant will be issued for his or her arrest.
Once a hearing on the contempt is set, the moving party will be required to prove that the other party is in contempt. If the judge finds the other party in contempt of court they can impose fines and jail time.
The moving party can ask the court to find the other party in remedial contempt and/or punitive contempt. Each carries a different burden of proof and may carry different sanctions or punishments.
Punitive Sanctions: In punitive contempt, the moving party is asking the court to sanction the contemnor as a form of punishment such as a specific fine or a jail sentence. The burden of proof for punitive contempt is beyond a reasonable doubt. The party seeking the contempt must prove that there is an existing court order, other party was aware there is a court order, had the ability to comply with the order and failed to do so, and that they willfully failed to comply with the order.
Remedial Sanctions: In remedial contempt, the moving party is asking the court sanction the other party as an incentive for the other party to comply with the existing order, in other words, to remedy the contempt. This sanction can include a fine or jail time as the court sees fit. The burden of proof on a remedial contempt is preponderance of the evidence and the moving party must prove to the court that there is an existing order, the contemnor is aware there is an order, and has the present ability to comply with the order.
If the court determines that the contemnor is in contempt, sanctions will either enter immediately or at a future sentencing hearing.
The contempt process can be very slow and can be costly in terms of time and attorney’s fees. It is best to consult with an attorney prior to filing a contempt action to determine if there is a quicker and less expensive option or if contempt is the proper course of action.
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