Contempt of Court in Pennsylvania Family Law Cases
When people go to family court to work out their differences, they must abide by court rules. Not following those rules in a Pennsylvania family court could land you in contempt of court, after which you may have to pay a $100 fine or spend up to 30 days in jail.
Being held in contempt of court is avoidable in most situations. If you have a pending court date in Montgomery County, it would be wise to speak with an experienced family law attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz to ensure that you know what is expected of you by the court.
What Is Contempt of Court?
Contempt of court is when someone disobeys a court order or behaves inappropriately while in court. Doing the following could land you in contempt with the judge:
- Ignoring a discovery request - If you are going through a divorce or child custody hearing, you may be asked to produce documents, or answer questions that the other party has posed in a timely manner. Failing to do so, or responding inappropriately, will land you in contempt. To avoid this, make sure that your answers are thorough and all the requested documentation is present.
- Courtroom outburst - Tensions run high in family court, but outbursts of any kind are not allowed. A judge may excuse one or two, but if a person consistently speaks out of turn, it will lead to a fine or jail time.
- Ringing cellphones - Cellphones must be on vibrate or silent while in court. It is best to turn them completely off to avoid any issues.
- Disobeying court orders - When a judge puts an order in place, it is not optional. It must be done within that timeframe. Visitation, child custody, and other orders must be followed as directed. If your child’s other parent violates a custody or visitation order, you may request that the court hold him or her in contempt, and return the child to you.
- Financial noncompliance - You will be held in contempt if you fail to pay child support or turn over property as directed by a judge. If the reason for you not paying is financial hardship, you should tell the judge immediately, and he will then decide whether or not to enforce the original order. Do not wait until the payment is already past due.
You cannot be held in contempt if you did not know that an order existed or that you were given a discovery request. However, all misunderstandings must be proven to the judge. You will be asked to prove how you were unaware or given the wrong information about your court order.
Having an experienced attorney by your side will help you avoid these simple mistakes. The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., has over 25 years of experience in family law, and we will work with you one-on-one to ensure that you are fully prepared for court and understand any court orders that you are given. Call an experienced Montgomery County divorce attorney today at (866) 290-9292 for a free consultation.