The Financial Consequences of Contempt in Family Law

Conducting yourself professionally during a legal case increases the chance of a favorable outcome. Lashing out verbally, emotionally, or physically or failing to comply with the Court’s orders can increase the risk of contempt of Court charges. The severity of these charges depends on the guilty party’s actions, but consequences can range from fines to jail time. This guide outlines the financial consequences of contempt in family law.

Direct vs. Indirect Contempt of Court

First, there are several different kinds of contempt that carry different potential penalties. Direct contempt of Court implies that a person has willfully disobeyed Court orders, while indirect contempt of Court is more nuanced. Someone may commit indirect contempt of Court if they get laid off from their job and cannot afford child support but fail to notify their former spouse. 

Potential Financial Penalties

If a party is found in contempt of Court, financial consequences can be effectuated in a variety of ways, depending on the nature of the violations charged, the remedies requested, and the Court’s ultimate decision.

Wage Garnishment

A judge may order a financial judgment to be withheld by means of wage garnishment. A wage garnishment will withhold the guilty party’s current earnings and put the money toward alimony or child support instead of in the individual’s bank account. 

Seizure of Assets

Judges may also order the seizure of a guilty party’s assets if they fail to pay court-ordered alimony or child support payments. The Court may sell these assets to create funds for the missed payments. 

Court Fees and Fines

Court fees and fines are other examples of the financial consequences of contempt in family law. Depending on the severity of someone’s actions, the Court may require them to pay fines or cover the other party’s attorney fees. A Court may also require a noncompliant individual to pay legal fines or fees due to punitive or remedial penalties. 

Jail Time

In some cases, a judge may sentence the noncompliant person to jail time; this can occur due to remedial or punitive contempt. Often, remedial contempt occurs due to a failure to meet specific actions. For instance, a judge may send an individual to jail if they repeatedly miss child support payments; the person may remain in prison until they make the payments.

Punitive contempt can also result in up to six months in jail as a direct punishment. For example, a court may find a person guilty of punitive contempt if they fail to conduct themselves appropriately in the courtroom.

Spending time in jail can negatively affect one’s financial status, since the individual will be unable to work. Moreover, in some cases, any money the noncompliant individual earns while in jail may go to the other party, depending on the circumstances.

Protect Your Rights

Going to court can be a stressful experience, but having an attorney at your side can reduce those feelings. Jones Law Firm, PC, has a talented team of Denver contempt of Court attorneys with an in-depth understanding of Colorado’s family laws. We can protect your rights in a legal case. Schedule a free consultation today to begin working with our experts. 


The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

Our team includes attorneys licensed to practice in multiple states including April D. Jones in California, Patrick G. Barkman in Texas, the Cherokee Nation, the Northern District of Texas, and the District of Colorado (United States Court of Appeals 10th and 5th Circuit).