When people hear the phrase “contempt” they tend to think of someone being punished for behaving badly in a courtroom while court is session. In reality, a contempt action can arise any time a person violates a court order – regardless of where it occurs. A party may be held in contempt for such things as violating the marital dissolution agreement, failing to honor the parenting plan, or for failing to pay child support.
A charge of contempt can be brought as a civil or criminal matter. Either charge is serious and can result in the defendant spending significant time in jail. Criminal contempt actions are less common because they require a heavier burden of proof and afford the defendant more protection than a civil action, and are most often used when a financial payment will not resolve the issues created by the contempt.
Contempt cases can be complex. It is not as simple as “John had to pay Sue and didn’t.” There may be extenuating circumstances, such as a support defendant proving that they were truly unable to pay. An attorney will help you decide whether a contempt action is viable and which type of action would make it more likely for you to achieve the relief you need.
If you have questions regarding contempt actions in Tennessee, please do not hesitate to call the number listed above, send an email, or use our contact page. If you’ve been charged with contempt, understand that you should act quickly as there are very serious implications (including potential time in jail)
The Mason Family Law Firm represents clients throughout Middle Tennessee, including Davidson County, Williamson County, Dickson County, Cheatham County, Rutherford County, Maury County, Wilson County, Sumner County, and the cities of Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Lebanon, Gallatin, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, Mount Juliet, Smyrna, Spring Hill, Ashland City, Kingston Springs, and others at clients’ request.