Contempt of court is a court order which the court declares a person to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority. Often referred to simply as "contempt," such as a person "held in contempt," it is the judge's strongest power to impose sanctions for acts which disrupt the court's normal process.
A finding of contempt of court may result from a failure to obey a lawful order of a court, showing disrespect for the judge, disruption of the proceedings through poor behavior, or publication of material deemed likely to jeopardize a fair trial. A judge may impose sanctions such as a fine or jail for someone found guilty of contempt of court.
Once the divorce, legal separation, or final judgment of paternity has been granted, and a party is not following or doing what is required by the court order, parties may make the court aware of the situation. They do this by filing for Contempt. There are two types of Contempt. The type used depends on which part of the order a party is suspected of not following.
If the Physical Placement Order is not being followed see the Petition for Enforcement of Physical Placement Order (Form FA-609) for any of the following reasons:
- the other parent has denied your specific time of physical placement or not returned the child as required, or
- interfered with your physical placement (visitation), or
- if you have incurred a financial loss or expense as a result of the other parent's failure to exercise placement.
If other parts of the order are not being followed see the Instructions for Contempt found below.
If you would like to change the court ordered legal custody or physical placement schedule that is currently in place, you may do so by also using seeing Modification or Changing a Court Order.
The party making the claim of contempt is also required to properly notify the other party of the court date (see Service).
Instructions on Contempt: