by Attorney Christopher E. Heberg –

Notice of the Charge
Has a Motion for Contempt been filed against you for not paying your child support previously ordered by the court? Perhaps, you’re filing for contempt against your spouse for not doing what was required with a Divorce Decree.

No matter the precise scenario, the process can be quite contentious. In both situations, you should work with a competent Rhode Island family law attorney to insure you go through the proper steps to assure the contempt charge gets ironed out in the best possible way.

Your Response
If you are charged with Contempt of Court, you’re going to need to respond to the Court Summons immediately. The Summons is notice to you, delivered often by a Sherriff on behalf of your spouse, alleging you haven’t obeyed the previous court order. You must respond to this notice in a timely manner, generally within 20 days, or you could automatically lose your case.

This timely response is called an Answer. Your attorney must set forth in clear and concise language, relying upon legal theories and precedent, why you didn’t obey the court order. Your spouse and their lawyer will also receive this document, so they have your explanation in writing, within the minimum required time, by rule.

Attending the Court Hearing
If you are in fact guilty of failing to comply with the Court Order you may face an angry judge when attending the court hearing. Never attend a contempt hearing without a lawyer present to protect you or to advocate for you.

The consequences of disobeying a court order can mean you having to pay, sanctions to your spouse, immediately comply with the Order and bring yourself current and pay your spouse’s legal costs.

It is not uncommon for people to be sentenced to the Adult Correctional Facility in RI if they are chronically, habitually or willfully in contempt of the Court Order. No matter the situation of the contempt charge, either prosecuting or defending, you need to find an experienced family law attorney to negotiate the best possible outcome. Contact us directly if you’re involved in family law matter involving contempt charges.