Contempt Motions: What They Are, and How They Work

Anyone who is going through a divorce wants the process to run smoothly so as to minimize any further emotional stress. Unfortunately, not every divorce case is like this, and even worse, sometimes the ex-spouse creates extreme obstacles. It can even come to a point where a contempt motion is necessary.

What is a Contempt Motion?

A contempt motion is useful for when one of the divorcing members fails to abide by the orders of the judge. The Minnesotan Contempt Motion instructions specify that the individual was, “ordered to do something, knew about the Order, and has knowingly, and without good reason, disobeyed the Order.” Failing to comply with orders is anything from not following visitation rules, not paying child support, to violating a restraining order.

How Do Contempt Motions Work?

The legal process is not fast, nor does it guarantee that the court will side with you, nor that the other party will face jail time. Regardless, what must first be completed is the paperwork. In these papers you explain the situation and what parts of the Order the other party failed to obey, acknowledge that you are not filing for contempt as a means to harass the other party, and that you have never been convicted of frivolous litigation.

After this, the court schedules a first-stage hearing no later than 60 days “after the issuance of the notice of motion” (DIV 1401). At this hearing, the court will decide if the contents of the Order were known, and if the person disobeyed the orders with or without good reason. The judge will then determine if jail time is a possibility and ask if the person wishes to speak to an attorney. If they do, the court schedules a second hearing for a later date; if they don’t, the second hearing may begin at that point.

At the second hearing, the court will determine any fines, future court orders, and/or may “immediately sentence the person to jail or may ‘stay’ (not immediately enforce) the jail sentence to give the person time to ‘purge’ (correct) the prior behavior by doing what the court Order required” ( DIV 1401). Should the court decide to stay the jail sentence, they schedule a revocation hearing. At the revocation hearing, the court will decide if the person changed their behavior; if they have not, the court will then also decide if jail time is necessary to correct the behavior. If it is, that person is incarcerated until they purge the contempt.

The process of filing contempt is a long one, but it is a good tool for cases that need it. To see if your case needs a contempt motion and for other legal assistance, contact us.