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Experienced Gwinnett County, GA Contempt & Enforcement Lawyer

Contempt and enforcement proceedings may be needed when a former spouse does not obey the court’s orders on child custody, child support, alimony, or other divorce matters. Legal mechanisms exist to have your ex-spouse or ex-partner comply with court orders. A Family Law attorney can assist and advocate for you with any needed proceeding.

Conversely, if you are at risk of having contempt and enforcement used against you, you must protect yourself with a competent lawyer as well.

Call Family Law attorney Sharon Jackson today at (678) 921-3480

Here is an overview of what contempt and enforcement can do under Georgia law.

How do You Enforce a Divorce Decree in Georgia?

In legal terms, “contempt” is an action that disregards, disobeys, or disrespects the court. If the Family Court has given an order on any divorce issue such as spousal support (alimony), child support, child custody, or division of property, a non-compliance of this order may be considered contempt. A person can request contempt proceedings to have the other party deemed to be “in contempt of the court.”

“Enforcement” is a mechanism by which the court ensures that its orders are obeyed. For instance, if a custodial parent finds that their ex-spouse has missed multiple child support payments, the custodial parent may request the court to “enforce” those payments. The court could then order income deduction from parent’s wages to pay for the child support they owe. There are other means of enforcement, discussed further below.

What is a Petition for Contempt in Georgia?

If you need the court to enforce a Georgia divorce order, you must first file a “Motion for Contempt” against the other party. Your motion should be filed with the court that gave the original order. A hearing will be set, and you must be prepared to establish the following elements:

  • That you are the proper party to bring the contempt action (that is, you are the former spouse or parent owed the support)
  • That the other party has failed to comply with the court order
  • That the other party’s non-compliance was willful – they had the means to fulfil their obligation but chose not to.

Note that contempt proceedings do not only apply to missed child support or spousal support payments, but also to other divorce issues as well. These include child custody, parenting time (visitation), property division, business division, and more.

For parents who are seeking payment of child support arrears, another way to collect is to approach the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). They can enforce the support order via various methods such as withholding the paying parent’s paycheck. However, in some cases, the DCSS eventually decides that filing a contempt action in court is the best way to get the support order enforced.

What Are The Consequences of Being in Contempt of Court in Georgia?

Contempt in Georgia is considered a quasi-criminal offense, which means it may or may not lead to criminal consequences. Depending on the severity of the offense, the court may simply conclude with the enforcement of the original order, or it can impose further penalties such as fines or even jail time. The penalties are primarily up to the judge’s discretion.

This is why for individuals who are being threatened with a contempt action, it is wise to prepare a solid defense with a lawyer who is adept at Family Law. You must also take initiative early on to prevent getting in trouble with divorce orders. For example, if you find that the court’s child support order is too hefty for you to maintain, seek an order modification as soon as you can. A Family Law attorney can help you with this, too.

How do you Enforce Child Support in Georgia?

When it comes to child support orders, the DCSS or the court has these means of enforcement:

  • Withholding the offending parent’s wages or unemployment benefits until they fulfil their obligations
  • Intercepting state or federal income tax refunds to pay child support arrears
  • Garnishing worker's compensation benefits (garnishment is an arrangement with the court and an employer to directly take part of a parent’s paycheck and use it to pay their support obligation)
  • Suspending or revoking the offending parent’s driving license or professional/occupational license
  • Filing liens and levies on tangible property
  • Adding a parole condition of complying with child support orders.

Contact Sharon Jackson Today

If you need the enforcement of your Georgia divorce order, or if you have to defend yourself against a contempt action, entrust your case to a lawyer who is experienced in these complicated cases. Attorney Sharon Jackson has been helping individuals in Gwinnett County and beyond, strategically navigating Family Law for the most favorable outcomes for her clients.

Talk to Ms. Jackson about your family legal issue. Call today at (678) 921-3480.

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