You may have heard of “contempt of court” before, especially in your favorite legal dramas. But what exactly does this phrase mean? If you’re going through a divorce or custody battle in Minnesota, you must understand what contempt of court entails and how it can affect your case.
In Minnesota, contempt of court can come up in various legal contexts, but it’s particularly common in family law cases like divorces and custody battles. Depending on the circumstances, it can be either civil or criminal, resulting in penalties ranging from fines to jail time.
Let’s take a closer look.
Civil contempt of court describes behavior that disobeys or ignores a court order. Here are a few examples when someone commits civil contempt:
- If someone fails to comply with a court order in a Minnesota family law case, they may be found in direct or indirect contempt.
- When one disobeys a court order in front of the judge, they commit direct contempt. The judge can punish them right away for this kind of contempt.
- When one disobeys a court order somewhere else, they commit indirect contempt. For instance, if a parent does not pay for child support or does not let the other parent see the child, they may be guilty of indirect contempt of court.
In these cases, the other party must file a motion for contempt with the court, which will then schedule a hearing. If the court finds that the accused party did violate the court order, they may be ordered to comply, pay fines, or be temporarily imprisoned until they comply.
Civil contempt is not meant to punish the offender but to encourage compliance with the court’s orders. The contempt charge is lifted as soon as the offender complies with the order. However, if the offender disobeys the court order, they may face further penalties and sanctions.
Can You Avoid Civil Contempt?
The best way to avoid civil contempt of court is to take court orders seriously and comply with them to the best of your ability. If you’ve been ordered to pay child support, make your payments on time and in full. You must also comply if you’ve been ordered to allow visitation with your child.
Life is unpredictable, and sometimes things happen that make it challenging or even impossible to follow a court order.
You could lose your job or have a medical emergency. In situations like this, act fast and talk to your attorney. They can help you request a modification of the order to help you avoid legal problems.
In some cases, you can avoid civil contempt by communicating with the other party and trying to work out a solution outside of court. This can be particularly effective in cases involving parenting time and child support.
Remember that any financial or child custody agreement reached outside of court should be put in writing and approved by the court to ensure it is enforceable.
Criminal contempt of court is a more serious offense than civil contempt and involves behavior that shows a willful disregard for the court’s authority. In Minnesota, criminal contempt of court can be either direct or indirect.
Direct Criminal Contempt
Direct criminal contempt refers to an act of contemptuous behavior that occurs in a courtroom. It involves an intentional or deliberate act that is disrespectful, disruptive, or obstructive to the court’s proceedings. For instance, an example of direct criminal contempt would be if someone insults or uses offensive language toward the judge.
Indirect Criminal Contempt
Indirect criminal contempt occurs when someone violates a court order and disregards the court’s authority. For example, someone who repeatedly violates a restraining order may face imprisonment.
Defendants charged with criminal contempt of court receive the same legal privileges guaranteed by the sixth amendment. These include the right to a jury trial, to present and cross-examine witnesses, and to give their testimony.
The primary aim is to preserve the court’s order and authority and guarantee the impartial and fair conduct of family law court proceedings.
Need Help with Civil Disputes in Minnesota? Turn to CBJ Law
Contempt of court in Minnesota is a serious matter that can result in costly fines or jail time. Civil contempt is used to encourage compliance with court orders, while criminal contempt is meant to punish those who show willful disregard. To avoid contempt of court, take court orders seriously and comply with them to the best of your ability.
Dealing with contempt of court can be a difficult and stressful experience. If you’re facing a civil dispute in Minnesota, contact the experienced attorneys at CBJ Law. Our team has a proven track record of successfully handling various civil disputes, including family law.
We recognize that dealing with civil disputes or charges can overwhelm you and your family. Let us put you at ease. Contact CBJ Law today to schedule a free case evaluation.