Father owned a Ferrari, flew off on chartered flights to the Caribbean and paraded himself on Facebook wearing flashy clothes and jewelry. He did this while his estranged girlfriend and their child were living on general assistance. Father failed to follow any court orders for paying child support and spousal support. Father also failed to appear in court when his ex-girlfriend tried to enforce the orders – court date after court date. The Judge even went so far as to issue a bench warrant to bring him back to court. This pattern lasted for more than a year. Does this sound contemptible to you? Contempt is exactly what this is in the legal world and bringing a contempt charge is serious business.
A person can bring a contempt charge if they can prove a few basic facts:
(1) there was a court order;
(2) the accused person knew of the order;
(3) the accused person was able to comply with the order, and
(4) the accused person willfully disobeyed the order.
Coursey v. Superior Court ((1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 147, 154) is a good case on this point.
Contempt has some criminal law aspects to it even though a party can prosecute a contempt in family law court. The party bringing the charge must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. A party guilty of contempt might be looking at a few days in jail and a fine. The Court will continue to punish the losing party until they comply with the court order.
Who knows what will happen to Father. The Court is still out.