When a divorce is filed in Massachusetts, a divorce decree typically explains
in clear terms the conditions that must be met by each of the newly-divorced
partners. These orders may include such items as property division, child
support payments or almimony payments. When one spouse does not follow
the terms of these court-ordered conditions, it may be possible to file
suit to hold them in contempt.
What is a contempt charge?
When one party violates financial orders contained in their divorce decree,
they may be held in civil contempt. While there are also criminal contempt
charges, they would not apply in a divorce case. There are some specific
instances where a partner may consider filing contempt charges:
Support issues - the court orders payment of child or spousal support not later than
the first day of the month and as of the fifteenth day of the month the
support remains unpaid
Retirement account division - oftentimes one partner is required to turn over part of their retirement
account. If the partner refuses to do this, they may be cited for contempt
Real estate transactions - while one partner may be living in the home, the divorce decree may
indicate the property is to be sold or the other partner's name is
to be removed from a current mortgage. When this is not done, there may
be a reason for filing a contempt suit
When contempt charges may not stick
Spouses who were not notified of modifications in their divorce decree
or spouses who have had a financial issue that prohibited them from following
through on the terms of a financial obligation laid out in their divorce
decree may not be found in contempt by a court in the Commonwealth of
In addition, violations of restraining orders are typically not reasons
to file contempt charges as these charges may not be able to easily prove.
If your ex-partner has failed to live up to their responsiblities under
your Massachusetts divorce decree, it may be time to
contact the Law Office of Robert W. Kovacs, Jr., a
family law attorney. We can help you determine if the threat of a contempt charge will force
your ex-spouse to live up to the financial terms of your divorce decree.