Failure to comply with an order, from a North Carolina court, may result in legal issues for civil contempt or even criminal contempt. A person found in contempt can face serious consequences to force compliance, even jail time. Civil contempt applies to family court orders including divorce, child custody, alimony, equitable distribution. If you find yourself in the midst of contempt proceedings following a North Carolina divorce, let the Charlotte contempt attorneys at Powers Law Firm PA be your voice in court, standing up for your rights and looking after your best interests.
Facts About Contempt in North Carolina
Contempt can come into play after a court has issued judgments, orders or decrees to govern the behavior of the parties. Once a court has issued such decrees, it is important to observe them to the best of your ability and, at the same time, to take note of any potential violations on the part of your former spouse or partner.
A contempt action is appropriate when a party “contemptuously” violates any provision of the decree. As a practical matter, however, the violation or violations should be significant. Courts have been known to take it personally when a parent disregards their orders. If attorney and client can produce evidence that their opponents have willfully disregarded a court decree, then they can “make a motion” or “move” for a contempt ruling.
To find a party guilty of contempt, the court cannot simply conclude that the accused party did not act in accordance with the decree. The court must also conclude that the accused party had the ability to comply and therefore violated the decree both deliberately and without good reason. It is then up to the accused to present evidence that he or she did not have the ability to comply or that it was an “honest mistake.”
Of course, the evidence for a contempt ruling often does exist, and if you and your attorney can produce it, you will substantially improve your case. In fact, your attorney will often file a motion of contempt in tandem with a motion to modify.
The Difference Between Criminal Contempt and Civil Contempt in North Carolina
There are different reasons and purposes for civil contempt and criminal contempt under the North Carolina family laws. There are different procedures for each, which may result in different types of sanctions. One of the more common disputes in Charlotte family court involves a Show Cause Order and child custody and visitation issues.
- Criminal Contempt – Punishment for violating a valid Court Order or for interrupting judicial proceedings or being disrespectful to the Judge
- Civil Contempt in NC – Intended to require compliance or make a party comply with a Court Order
“Criminal contempt is meant to punish someone for failing to comply or actively disobeying a Court Order. Civil contempt is an effort to change behaviors and ensure future compliance with the subject of things like Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support in North Carolina.”
– Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer
Criminal contempt is normally applicable where the ruling is a punishment for something already done that tends to interfere with the court system or administration of justice. Civil contempt in family court proceedings is meant to address the rights of the parties, to preserve their rights under a valid court order, and to compel obedience to orders.
In reviewing the North Carolina family laws, the NC Supreme Court states, “A major factor in determining whether a contempt is civil or criminal is the purpose for which the power is exercised.” Blue Jeans v. Amalgamated Clothing (1969).
Criminal contempt is different than criminal charges for allegations of a felony or misdemeanor criminal charges. It’s important to understand that a Court Order under the NC family laws may direct the parties “not threaten, assault, or harass” one-another.
As such, getting arrested for Assault on a Female or Simple Assault, Communicating Threats or other Domestic Violence charges may require legal representation in both criminal court, for the criminal charges, and may further serve as a legal basis for a Motion to Show Cause and Show Cause Order for willfully violating an existing family court Order. It’s also relevant to note, new criminal charges an also result in a Complaint and Motion for Domestic Violence Protection Order or DVPO.
If you’re facing allegations of criminal charges, call divorce lawyer Charlotte NC Bill Powers.
Contact Our Charlotte Contempt Attorney Today
Consult with a Charlotte contempt attorney at Powers Law Firm PA if you are looking to hold another party in contempt for violating a court order or if you are facing allegations of contempt yourself. Contact the Charlotte contempt attorney at Powers Law Firm PA immediately! Call us today at 704-342-4357.