Defying the court’s authority has serious consequences anywhere in the U.S.
In Colorado, you can be charged with contempt of court if your behavior either willfully obstructs the ability of the court to perform its duties or you ignore an order from the court.
Contempt charges can even be brought against lawyers who attempt to influence court proceedings unduly.
If you are charged and found guilty of contempt of court in Colorado, it’s possible that you will face jail time, fines, or both.
The experienced lawyers at Colorado Legal Group can help you:
- Defend yourself against a contempt of court charge to avoid the most serious consequences
- File a contempt of court charge against an ex-partner in family court
What is contempt of court?
A common example of contempt of court in family court is a parent refusing to pay the child support that has been ordered.
However, it can occur in the direct presence of any civil or criminal court or from an indirect action relating to its proceedings.
The following are other examples that can lead to a contempt of court citation:
- Refusing to answer questions from a judge or attorney under oath
- Not following court rules
- Belittling or mocking court proceedings
- Interrupting or degrading court proceedings (like withholding evidence)
- Not filing papers on time
Contempt of court is relatively common in family law disputes where there is a “trust” element in settlements.
For instance, when a judge orders a child custody or spousal support arrangement in a divorce, he or she expects the spouses to follow the provisions of the order.
However, there is no process to enforce the judgement of the civil court, unlike criminal cases where the judge’s sentence will be immediately carried out by the appropriate court officials and law enforcement officers.
By filing a contempt of court citation, a complainant can help enforce the ruling of a court order.
Contempt of court can, however, occur inside or outside of any court by any person connected to a judicial case.
What happens if you are charged with contempt of court?
Contempt of court is a relatively common occurrence in Colorado, especially in contested divorce cases where one party asks the judge to hold the other party in contempt of court because they have violated a provision of a court order.
If this happens, the complainant will:
- File a Motion & Affidavit for Citation for Contempt of Court (Form JDF 1816) signed in front of a notary public or court clerk
- Complete an Order to Issue Citation and Citation to Show Cause (JDF 1817)
- Send or take the forms to the court in person
After the court reviews the documents, the clerk will set a date for a hearing and all parties concerned will need to be informed (a lawyer can do this on behalf of the complainant).
If you are accused of contempt of court, you will be required to appear in court on the designated date to explain why you should not be held in contempt of court.
Failure to appear at the allotted time and date will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
Most individuals will need to hire a Colorado divorce lawyer to present their case.
At this hearing, one party will need to show why the other party is in contempt of court. For instance, documents may be presented showing that they:
- Have not paid child support payments
- Have failed to provide spousal support
- Have failed to follow child visitation arrangements
In Colorado, for matters concerning nonpayment of support, it is normally proven with one or more of the following:
- An affidavit signed under penalty of perjury
- Records of nonpayment certified by the court clerk, or
- Records of nonpayment from the Family Support Registry
The matter may require more than one hearing to reach a satisfactory conclusion. The process generally takes between two and four months.