DuPage County Contempt of Court Order Divorce Lawyer

Glendale Heights divorce attorney for contempt and petition for rule to show cause

Attorneys for Petitions for Rule to Show Cause in Family Law Cases in DuPage, Kane, Will, Kendall, and Cook Counties

When a divorce is finalized, the court will issue a divorce decree or judgment that lays out all of the agreements made or decisions regarding issues such as the division of assets and debts, the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, and the payment of child support or spousal maintenance. A divorce judgment or decree is a legally-binding court order that the parties will be required to follow or face consequences from the court. Court orders may also be issued during the divorce process, including temporary support orders, temporary decisions about parenting time schedules, or orders requiring one spouse to turn over certain property to the other. If one party violates a court order, the other party may ask that the violating party be held in contempt of court and correct the violation to avoid jail time.

At McSwain Nagle & Giese, P.C., our lawyers have over 65 years of combined experience, and we understand the divorce laws in Illinois and how to handle situations involving contempt. If your spouse has failed to follow orders put in place by the court, we can help you determine your options for enforcement, including asking that they be held in contempt. If you have been accused of violating the court's orders, we can help you determine the best ways to defend against these claims. We will work with you to reach an outcome that will protect your rights and interests.

Types of Contempt

Contempt of court can be either direct or indirect and can be civil or criminal. Direct contempt occurs in the presence of a judge, while indirect contempt occurs outside the courtroom. Outside of situations in which a person is penalized for an angry outburst in the courtroom, most divorce cases will involve indirect contempt. Examples may include failure to pay child support, refusal to vacate the family home after being ordered to do so, or interference by one parent in the other's parenting time.

The penalties for contempt of court, which are known as "sanctions," may differ depending on whether a person is found to be in civil contempt or criminal contempt. Civil contempt is meant to compel someone to follow the court's orders, while criminal contempt serves as punishment for a violation. For example, if a person has not paid child support, but they have the means to do so, they may be found in civil contempt and sentenced to jail time until they make arrangements to pay support as ordered. 

Sanctions for criminal contempt can vary depending on what a judge considers to be an appropriate response to a violation. For instance, a one-time violation of a parenting time schedule may simply result in a judge ordering that parent to allow the other parent to have make-up parenting time. However, more serious or repeated violations in this manner could result in more severe sanctions, including placing restrictions on that parent's parenting time, imposing fines, ordering a certain amount of jail time to be served, or suspending the parent's driver's license. Criminal contempt is appropriate when the violation cannot be fixed (i.e. you cannot "unring the bell").

Petition for Rule to Show Cause

If a party has violated the court's orders, the other party can bring this violation to the court's attention and ask for the court to address the matter by filing a document known as a Petition for Rule to Show Cause. This petition must specify the specific order that was violated and the date the order was made, and it will detail when and how the other party violated the order. It will also state that the petitioner has tried to correct the situation without success, and the respondent has willfully violated the court's orders without a good reason. 

If the court believes that the petitioning party has met their initial burden, they may issue an Order for Rule to Show Cause, which is served on the respondent and requires them to appear in court on a certain date. At this hearing, the respondent will be required to show that they did not violate the court's orders or to offer an explanation for why the violation occurred (i.e. show that the violation was not willful). The judge will then decide whether to find the person in contempt and what sanctions will be imposed.

The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/508(b)) states that if a person is found to have willfully violated the court's orders without a compelling reason, they will be required to pay the other party's costs and attorney's fees related to this matter. However, if a judge finds that a contempt hearing was held for improper purposes, such as harassment or to delay legal proceedings, the petitioner could be required to pay the respondent's attorney's fees related to this matter.

Contact Our Warrenville Contempt of Court Attorneys

Our lawyers can provide the legal representation you need in situations involving court order violations and contempt. We will explain your rights and the procedures that will be followed, and we will advocate on your behalf to help address your needs. Contact us at 630-407-1200 for a free consultation. We represent clients in Wheaton, Warrenville, Winfield, Glen Ellyn, Carol Stream, Naperville, Glendale Heights, and throughout DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, Will County, and Cook County.

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