Divorce, Custody, and Contempt of Court
In divorce proceedings you can come across both civil and criminal contempt. Criminal contempt is designed to punish for non-compliance with a court order. This would be the case in child support actions. If you do not pay your child support, the court can put you in jail as a punishment for not paying. On the other hand, civil contempt has an aim at compliance, and forcing one party to comply with a court order. Both can land you in jail, but when civil contempt comes up, you are not getting out of jail until you comply with the order.
In both cases, there needs to be a written order by the court. This means that the court has given a directive of some sort and told a party to do something. When that party opts not to do what the court tells them to, they can actually still get away with it then until a motion for contempt is filed by the state or the other party. The motion goes along the lines of “he’s (or she’s) not following the instructions! Either make them or punish them for not doing it.” The motion then gets put in front of a judge who gets to hear both sides and decide what to do.