Contempt of Court in a South Carolina Family Court

Contempt of Court in a South Carolina Family Court

No matter what the outcome of your family court dispute—whether it involves a divorce or child custody—you must respect the ruling of the court. While tensions run high and emotions run hot during and after these taxing proceedings, spiting or punishing the opposing party never ends well. In fact, it can backfire and have serious negative consequences.

What is Contempt of Court?

When one party to a family court order fails to follow the terms that the judge has dictated, the party who has not violated the order can petition the family court to enforce the order. This is commonly known as a contempt action and formally known as a “Rule to Show Cause.” A rule to show cause asks the family court to hold the opposing party in contempt until that party complies fully with the court order. If the other party was willful in his or her noncompliance with the order of the court, the court may find that the violating party was in contempt of the court’s order.

Common Examples of Willfully Ignoring Court Orders

Many people willfully disobey court orders during family court proceedings in order to “get back” at the other side. Due to the emotional nature of family court proceedings in which one party is almost inevitably a former spouse or significant other, people tend to mix their anger over their past relationship with the legal system. Some frequent examples of people willfully ignoring court orders include:

  • Refusing to hand over a child or not allowing one parent to see the child that they have a legal right to
  • Failing to maintain health insurance for a child
  • Hiding assets during divorce proceedings
  • Failure to pay spousal support
  • Failure to turn over property

This list is obviously not exhaustive but provides a small glimpse into some common problems that many parties encounter when attempting to go through family court.

The Consequences of Contempt of Court Can Be Dire

Willfully violating a court order is no laughing matter. If you are found in contempt of court, the punishment is not a mere slap on the wrist. South Carolina Code Section 63-3-620 authorizes a number of sanctions left up to the discretion of the family court judge, including:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of $1,500
  • Up to 300 hours of community service
  • Paying the opposing side’s attorney’s fees
  • Paying court fees

Get Help from a South Carolina Family Attorney

The orders handed down by a South Carolina family court are important and often govern matters integral to a family. Ignoring one of these orders can have a real life-changing impact on a family’s dynamic. If your former spouse, previous significant other or anyone else is in contempt of court, you should consult with an experienced South Carolina family law attorney.

The attorneys at the Klok  Law Firm LLC in Mount Pleasant are available to assist you in your family law needs, including holding an opposing party accountable to a court order.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation on your case.