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October 17, 2015

Contempt of Family Court Orders

Parents shown fighting in the background while their child is in focus in the foreground of the image

The family court has jurisdiction over a wide variety of family court matters. Part of this jurisdiction is the ability to issue orders, which the parties in a particular matter are compelled to follow. You may be prevented by court order from taking actions that affect or in any way harm a former partner or family member. If you are involved in divorce or child custody proceedings, there may be a court order already in existence dictating the terms under which your divorce is granted, or specifying a certain amount of child support to be paid and when you are entitled to visitation. Disregarding a court order is not something the court takes lightly. By failing to obey a court order, you could be charged with contempt, and find yourself facing fines as well as imprisonment.

Types of Court Orders

In any family court action, at least one of the parties in the matter is seeking some kind of relief from the court. The judge will generally listen to each side of an argument and then, based on the testimony and evidence, make a determination regarding the type of relief that will be awarded. The decision the court makes is communicated by way of an order. Section 63-3-530 of the South Carolina Code of Laws gives judges the jurisdiction in domestic matters to issue a number of different types of court orders, which include judicial orders requiring parties to a lawsuit to do the following:   

  • Pay spousal or child support, and allow visitation with children at certain times and places;
  • Prevent a spouse or other party from entering the home, or from harassing the other party;
  • Provide proper maintenance and upkeep to a home or marital property; and
  • Undergo psychiatric evaluations.

Contempt of Family Court Orders

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By law, the parties to a case are required to adhere to the terms laid out in the court order. Failing to do so can result in a finding of contempt of court. In some cases, an attorney will request a Rule to Show Cause hearing when the opposing party fails to adhere to the requirements of the court order. A hearing will then be held to determine if the opposing party should be held in contempt of court, and is so, if the contempt was committed either willingly or unwillingly. In cases of direct contempt, the court itself will initiate contempt proceedings. Direct contempt involves cases in which a person’s conduct shows flagrant disrespect for the court, or disrespect for court proceedings. Punishment for contempt can range from having to pay fines  and court costs to being put in jail until you are willing or able to comply with the terms of the court order.

Let Us Help You in Greenville

If you are facing contempt of court charges, contact an experienced South Carolina family law attorney. Greenville attorney Lauren Taylor knows the serious ramifications that can result from contempt charges. We will help to defend you against these charges, while vigorously protecting and defending your rights. Serving the entire Upstate area, our Greenville staff will guide you through the entire legal process, while always looking out for your best interests. Contact our office today for an initial consultation.