• Paul J. Phipps, Esquire

Paternity - Contempt and Enforcement

Contempt of court occurs when a person who had knowledge of a court order requiring he or she do or not do something, willfully and intentionally fails to comply with a court order despite having the ability to do so. Almost any clear directive in a court order is enforceable by contempt. Common contempt issues in family law cases are failure to pay child support, failure to pay spousal support, and failure to abide by a Parenting Plan and, or, time sharing schedule.


When a party is found in contempt the Court can impose penalties including fines, sanctions, attorney's fees and costs, make-up timesharing, and in some cases, incarceration. Generally, to be found in contempt the Court must find the following.

  1. Aware of the court ordered obligation. The party must have been aware of the court ordered obligation at the time that he or she was required to comply with it and the court ordered obligation must be clear and relatively specific as to what is required of the person.

  2. Willful and Intentional. The party must have willfully and intentionally failed to do the specific thing(s) he or she was ordered to do, or had done the thing(s) he or she was ordered not to do.

  3. Ability to comply. The party must have had the ability to comply with the court ordered obligation at the time he or she was ordered to do or not to do the act.

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