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Contempt and Enforcement

When a judge makes a legal ruling, it binds all of the parties involved. On occasion, however, one or the parties disregards the court’s orders or strays from the court’s intended plan. In these cases, Florida law gives the judge the power to enforce his or her legal ruling. Two of the methods that can be used to enforce a legal ruling are “contempt” and “enforcement.” When a party in your case fails to comply with a legal order, such as payment of support, Miami family law attorney Sandy T. Fox can petition the court on your behalf to use one of these measures to enforce the judgment already entered.


Contempt is a legal term that refers to a refusal to obey a legal order, mandate or decree that has been entered by a judge. Oftentimes, this may be a refusal to comply with a judge’s ruling at trial, i.e., to not bring up certain irrelevant facts, or refusal to pay child support payments.

There are two different types of contempt: civil and criminal. Civil contempt is generally used to coerce (or convince) a party to comply with a judicial order or decree. For example, suppose a judge orders a party to pay child support but that person—despite their ability to pay—willfully refuses to do so. To ensure that the judge’s order is followed, he may order that person be incarcerated until they decide to pay the ordered child support.

Criminal contempt is slightly different and is used by a judge to punish a party for a failure to comply with a court order. There are two kinds of criminal contempt, direct and indirect. Direct contempt refers to an act of contempt that is committed in the immediate presence of the court. For example, repeatedly referring to embarrassing facts in court that the judge had previously determined are not relevant to could constitute an act of direct contempt. Indirect contempt, on the other hand, is an act committed outside the court’s presence. An example of indirect criminal contempt would be attempting to bribe opposing counsel.

If you have been awarded support payments of any kind, but are not receiving them from the person who was ordered to pay them, attorney Sandy T. Fox, can ask the court to find that person in criminal or civil contempt of court.


Once a judge enters a legal ruling, that is not necessarily the end of the story. This is because in some cases, a judge will order one party to pay child support or alimony, but the party will not comply with that order. Or, a party may be ordered to comply with an equitable distribution decree, but refuses to do so.

For this reason exactly, Florida law gives the judge entering an order continued jurisdiction over these cases in order to ensure that the parties comply with all rulings. When required, Florida judges have the ability to enter monetary judgments, garnish wages, place liens on property, and suspend professional and/or driver’s licenses.

Are You Owed Payments?

If you are owed child support, alimony, or attorney’s fees and court costs, but the other party is refusing to comply with the court’s order to pay, South Florida family law lawyer Sandy T. Fox can take further legal action to seek compliance. Mr. Fox, a Florida Bar Board Certified specialist in Marital & Family Law, has the experience and dedication required to enforce all varieties of legal judgments and court orders. He will not rest until he has done everything he can to assist you. If you have questions about the enforcement of judgments, contact the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., for a confidential consultation at 800.596.0579, or online.

Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog - Contempt