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What is Contempt?

Contempt is defined by Webster as: (1) a feeling that someone or something is not worthy of any respect or approval; (2) a lack of respect for or fear of something that is usually respected or feared; or (3) law : speech or behavior that does not show proper respect to a court or judge.  In domestic relations or family law, contempt is usually referred to as a violation of a court order. For the court to find a party in contempt, the court must make a finding that the person willfully violated a court order. Once the Court makes the finding that the party violated the court order, the person is deemed to be "IN CONTEMPT."  The Court retains certain rights to issue sanctions for the violation.  These sanctions vary in nature and are often based on the severity of the violation.  Courts may also increase penalties if violations continue.  In Kentucky, a Judge can sentence a party up to 180 days in jail and up to $500 fine for contempt.  This is the power for each separate violation.  In addition to these sanctions, the court may also order payment of all reasonable legal fees to the prevailing party. Many courts will issue what is known as purge remedies.  These PURGE is what the person can do in order to avoid the punishment which the court has issued.  For example, if a party is in contempt for failing to pay child support as ordered, the court may sentence the party to 10 days in jail, which may be purged by paying a set amount of money. If the money is paid, the party does not have to serve the jail time. If your ex spouse or other parent of the child is not abiding by the terms of Court Orders, you can file a Motion for Contempt with the Family Court.  If you have been charged with Contempt or you wish to file Motion, you should hire an experienced attorney to defend your actions and represent you in court.  An attorney who practices both family law and criminal law is a plus.  In Northern Kentucky, contact Michael Bouldin at [email protected] or call 859-581-6453.

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