court of law

Divorce Terminology: Contempt

In order to understand the facets of divorce, knowing the language of divorce can help the process. Hearing the word “contempt” may bring to mind television shows focused around lawyers in smart suits. In terms of real life, the word can also relate to divorce.

“Contempt,” in relation to divorce, means that the person in contempt has disobeyed a court order that was in the divorce decree. Since the divorce decree has direct instructions set forth, the disobedience of these instructions will land the one at fault in contempt.

This can include divorced couples with children, but it can also include couples who did not have children together.

Divorcing parents have the added emotions and heartbreak of splitting time and resources around their children and their ex-spouse. Many times, divorced parents will withhold visitation or stop paying child support. There are times where the reason for wanting to stop visitation is valid because the child is in danger, but taking the proper steps will keep a parent out of contempt. Other times, changes come out of places of mental illness where a parent does not make decisions based on sound reasoning. The most common scenario is when a parent acts out of emotion. Emotional decisions are easy to make, especially when they are centered around children, but obeying the divorce decree is usually in the best interest of the child or children.

In addition to married couples with children, couples who divorce and do not have children together can find themselves in contempt. Again, this is simply a matter of not obeying the court order. Emotions are still an undercurrent even after the divorce is finalized. People can begin to justify their decisions to change the way assets are split after they’ve agreed to what is in the decree. They can feel decisions are just, but after a friend or family member gives their opinions, they can decide not to uphold aspects of the decree.

In either scenario, a person has taken the law into their own hands and made the decision to go against what was decided by an authority in the law--the judge. Being in contempt can affect a positive outcome, even if the individual was correct because the proper avenues were not respected and taken. Anyone with questions or concerns about the realities of their divorce decrees should consult attorneys who know the law and will advocate for their clients.

Divorce is difficult enough without navigating the language alone. Call Hickey and Hull. It’s about to get better, and we’re here to help.