The family court system of Metro East, IL, is responsible for handling several types of legal disputes, including divorce cases, child custody determinations, adoptions, and more. As a result, many people living throughout the Metro East area are indebted to various family court orders, each with its own unique terms and conditions. Therefore, if you are subject to any family court order, you must abide by the terms of this order and fulfill your obligations set forth by the order in good faith.

Willful violations of a family court order can lead to severe penalties. Depending on the nature and scope of a violation, the at-fault party could potentially face financial penalties, loss of custody rights, and even incarceration.

What Is Contempt of Court?

“Contempt of court” is a legal term used to describe an intentional refusal to abide by a lawful court order. This term may arise whenever a party subject to a family court order refuses to acknowledge the terms of the order or repeatedly fails to abide by these terms. Some examples of how an individual may face contempt of court in Metro East, IL, include:

  • Refusal to pay child support. Even if a parent believes their child support terms are unfair, they must make their payments per the terms of the order. Potential penalties for refusal to pay could include asset seizure, wage garnishment, or imprisonment.
  • Failure to pay child support on time or in full. When a parent is incapable of meeting their child support obligations due to forces beyond their control, they must go through the appropriate channels to modify their child support order instead of willfully violating the order. For example, if you lose your job or your financial situation changes due to circumstances entirely outside of your control, you should notify the court immediately and request reasonable changes to your family court order through the modification process.
  • Failure to abide by custody and visitation terms. When parents have a custody order, any intentional violation of the order can have severe consequences. This is especially true when a violation of the order poses any type of danger to a child. A parent who knowingly violates their custody terms or who engages in a pattern of repeated violations will likely face adjusted custody terms, or they may lose their parental rights entirely.
  • Refusal to acknowledge custody and visitation rights. Parents may not interfere with their co-parents’ ability to exercise their custody and visitation rights.
  • Refusal to pay alimony. If a divorced spouse is ordered to pay alimony to their ex, they must abide by the terms of the alimony agreement. Refusal to pay may lead to wage garnishment, asset seizure, or imprisonment until the at-fault party agrees to pay what they owe.

These are only a few possible examples of situations that might lead to contempt proceedings in Metro East family court. If you believe your child’s other parent or your ex-spouse has committed any violation worthy of filing contempt proceedings, consult your Metro East family law attorney as soon as possible.

Contempt of Court and Family Court Order Modification

Contempt of court can easily lead to severe penalties. When it comes to economic violations such as failure or refusal to pay child support, the at-fault parent could face wage garnishment or asset seizure. When it comes to more serious violations such as child abuse or failure to adhere to a custody schedule, the at-fault parent may face criminal charges and loss of custody and visitation rights.

Unfortunately, some people subject to family court orders believe they can simply refuse to abide by the terms of a family court order they see as unfair or imbalanced. This is a mistake that can lead to severe consequences. Anyone in this position should know the potential consequences of violating a family court order and the alternatives that can provide more balanced and reasonable family court order terms.

If a family court order violation is severe enough, the judge overseeing the matter may move to modify the court order to reflect the at-fault parent’s behavior. This may include restricting their parental rights or limiting their visitation time. Suppose you believe there are issues with your current family court order that pose unreasonable burdens to you. In that case, it is never worth risking contempt of court and simply violating the order. Instead, consult your Metro East family law attorney about assisting you with a modification petition.

Petitioning for Modification in Metro East, IL

The family court system acknowledges that life can pose unpredictable challenges to anyone without any prior warning. Some life events can considerably influence a person’s ability to abide by the terms of a family court order. For example, if you lost your job due to your employer going out of business, this is an issue beyond your control that came about due to no fault of your own. This event could prevent you from fulfilling your child support obligation, and you have the right to request reasonable changes to your support agreement to reflect your change in circumstances.

The modification process is relatively straightforward. The party who needs a change to their family court order must submit a petition that includes a description of their requested changes and an explanation as to why these changes are both necessary and reasonable. The court will review the petition and set a hearing date. During the hearing, both the petitioner and the respondent have the right to speak on the issue. If the requested change is reasonable and the petitioner provides a compelling argument for why it is necessary, the judge is likely to grant their request.

Family law is more flexible than most people may realize when altering an existing court order. If you are having trouble meeting your obligations set forth by a family court order, it is always worth exploring the modification process rather than risk contempt of court. If you have concerns about your family court order or believe your situation qualifies for a modification, consult a Metro East family law attorney as soon as possible for specific guidance about your issue.