Contempt Issues in Your California Divorce


The terms of a Pasadena divorce settlement are created by court order. If you do not abide by the terms of the settlement, a judge may find you to be in contempt of court.

You can be found in contempt of court for failure to pay child and/or spousal support if the missed payments are due to willful disobedience and not a lack of income necessary to pay. If you are a parent, contempt orders apply to violations of matters concerning child custody and visitation for minor children you and your former spouse have together. Not abiding by the terms of job search requirements for receiving alimony, failing to comply with property division orders, not paying attorney fees for your spouse after you’ve been ordered to do so, or violating the terms of a restraining order filed by your former spouse will also subject you to a contempt action.

A contempt action is considered a “quasi-criminal” hearing. If you are charged with contempt, you have the same basic constitutional rights as you would if you were facing criminal charges. You have the right to a speedy trial as well as a Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. If you can’t afford an attorney, you have a right to a court-appointed legal representative. You may also have the right to a jury trial, depending upon the exact circumstances of your case.

To be found guilty of contempt of court, there needs to be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you were in violation of the court order. If your action is related to failure to pay child support and/or spousal support, the burden of proof in this regard falls to you and your attorney.

Penalties for contempt of court can include fines as well as up to five days in jail for each count of contempt. There is a three year statute of limitations for contempt actions concerning spousal support or child support. All other court orders have a two year statute of limitations for a contempt action.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of legal representation for a contempt action relating to your divorce, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at Our skilled Pasadena family law attorneys can advocate for your interests throughout the hearing process.