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What is Contempt?

Civil constructive contempt in the context of family law in Maryland refers to a situation where a party violates a court order or disregards a judicial process related to a family law matter. This type of contempt can occur in various family law situations, such as divorce, child custody, and support cases.

When a party violates a court order in a family law matter, the other party may file a motion for civil constructive contempt and possibly to enforce the existing court order as well. This motion must include specific details regarding the alleged contemptuous behavior and the court order that has been violated. The court will then schedule a hearing to determine whether the alleged party is in contempt of court.

If the individual is found to be in contempt, the court may impose various remedies to rectify the situation. Compensatory remedies may include the award of damages, payment of attorney’s fees, or other types of monetary compensation. Coercive remedies may include fines, imprisonment, or other forms of punishment designed to force the individual to comply with the court order. Oftentimes, on a first contempt, the court will allow the alleged party to purge the contempt by rectifying the situation within a certain time frame. For example, if a party has failed to pay child support for a number of months, the court may allow that party to make a payment in a certain amount determined by the court within thirty (30) days and that payment will purge the contempt.

It is important to note that the individual must have the ability to comply with the court order in order to be found in contempt. This means that the individual must have the financial means, physical ability, or other resources necessary to comply with the court order. It is possible for a party to not be found in contempt if they didn’t have the ability to follow the court order. For example, if the individual stopped making child support payments due to an involuntary loss of employment, the court may find that that individual is not in contempt of court because they lacked the ability to follow the court order.

It is important for individuals involved in family law cases to take all court orders seriously and to make every effort to comply with them in a timely and appropriate manner. If you are facing a civil constructive contempt proceeding in a family law matter, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and obligations and protect your interests throughout the legal process.


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