Craig Franklin Chambers, Attorney at Law

October 21, 2015

What is a Contempt Citation in a Colorado Divorce?

Denver Real Estate Law and Family Law Blog. (Vol 1.66)  October 21, 2015

By Craig Franklin Chambers Esq. 7851 S. Elati Street #204, Littleton,  CO 80120

The Littleton Lawyer.

As a Littleton lawyer focusing on real estate law, and family and divorce law in Littleton, South Suburban, Denver, Highlands Ranch, Roxborough Park, and Unincorporated South Jefferson County, one of the biggest problems a person faces is making sure the other party follows the court's orders.

I mean, what's the point of a court order if no one follows it?

Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 107 allows for a party to file for a contempt citation to ensure the court's orders are followed. There are two types of contempt under the rule: punitive and remedial.

A punitive contempt --which is rare--is a quasi criminal sanction for offending the "authority or dignity" of the court. It usually apples if you disrespect the court and results in jail of up to 180 days as punishment. Usually, a person requests remedial sanction under the civil contempt section of the rule. A remedial sanction is one which the offending can remedy --or purge the contempt-- by simply following the order.

The complaining party in a civil contempt must show that the offending party was aware of the court's order, has the present ability to follow the order, and intentionally failed to comply with  the order. The judge can order the offending party to jail until he remediates the contempt.

A frequent example is a contempt for failure to pay child support. To enforce the court's child support order, the party must prove there was a valid child support and that you had notice of the order, you have the present ability to follow the order, and you are refusing to follow the order.

If the court finds you in remedial contempt, in jail you will sit until the amount needed to get you out of jail as determined by the judge after  the contempt  is paid.

It's not contempt if the party cannot prove the offending party has the present ability to pay. If in the child support example, you fall behind on your child support because you are ill or because you lose your job, the contempt proceeding will likely fail.

Still, the judges have a saying: "If your choice is between paying child support or sleeping under a bridge, pick a warm bridge."

Judges expect their orders to be followed, and you take the risk of crossing the judge, paying fines, the other side's attorneys fees, and going to jail for up to 180 days , if you do not fully comply with the court's order.

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    Denver Real Estate and Family Law Attorney

    Licensed to practice law in Colorado since 1997, I have a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and a law degree from the University of Denver.

    7851 S. Elati St. #101 Littleton, CO. 80120

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