When another party fails to abide by the terms and conditions of the family court order, there are ways to enforce the order and to petition the court to force the other party's compliance. By informing the court that the other party is not abiding by the agreement they may be found in contempt, this is also known as a "Rule to Show Cause." By filing this petition you are basically asking the court to find the opposing party in contempt until they begin fulfilling the provisions in the court order. In order to find the opposing party in contempt, you will have to be able to prove that it willful and purposeful and not by accident. Within the Rule to Show Cause you must include an affidavit, or formal complaint, that clearly states the requirements of the court order and how the other party specifically failed to meet these provisions. If the opposing party has a valid reason for not meeting the set provisions in the court order, then filing a rule to show cause may not be the best option.
After filing the petition with the clerk of court, it must be served against the opposing party via certified mail, sheriff, or a court-authorized person. This way they will be informed of the scheduled court date and you can commence preparation. The contempt hearing is where physical evidence and witness testimony may be brought forward by the moving party in order to show the existence of contempt. The moving party has a burden of proof that is required by law in order to be successful, so it would be your job to convince the judge that action must be taken. Very few people find that they need to hold someone in contempt more than once in order to force them to comply- this is because there are serious legal consequences for those who disobey court orders. If you succeed in finding the other part in contempt, they could be held in jail for up to a year- this is one of the reasons why the enforcement system is so effective.
If you are successful in enforcing the court order, the other party could face legal consequences. The penalties for contempt of court are found in the Missouri Revised Statutes § 476.120 which states that they may be fined, imprisoned or both- the ultimate penalty will be left up to the discretion of the court. The person being accused of contempt has the right to an attorney, the court will appoint them one if they cannot afford it themselves. Being found in contempt is not a criminal offense, but it can send someone to jail. Anyone who holds a court order that clearly states what another person can or cannot do can file a contempt of court action if they believe that the opposing party has violated that order. If the person charged with contempt fails to appear at the court hearing, then they may be arrested. If you are the one being accused of contempt but you have a valid reason for violating the court order, then it is your job to prove that to the judge.
Need an attorney for a court order enforcement case in Kansas City, MO?
Next time another party fails to abide by a restraining order, child custody arrangement or child support agreement, then remember that there are ways to force their hand. If you would like to file a petition and formal complaint with the clerk, our Kansas City divorce attorneys can help. We also represent individuals being charged with contempt. Contact The Reynolds Law Firm, LLC today to schedule a case evaluation!