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You Are Out of Order!

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The Contempt Process in Nebraska Domestic Relations Cases

Hopefully, when you get your court order from the judge you and the other party are both equally invested to follow it. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. A co-parent may be unwilling to abide by the child visitation arrangement. Or your spouse may be unwilling to pay his child support or alimony to you. In such instances, whether your order is temporary or permanent, you can file to hold the other side in contempt of court.

In Nebraska, a contempt action in domestic relations cases begins with preparing a motion/application to show cause, listing concisely what the court ordered and how the other party is in violation of the court order’s terms. The application is accompanied by your supporting affidavit of the motion to show cause. These documents are then submitted to the court along with a proposed order for its consideration and signature.

The court may not sign the order to appear and show cause. If they do not, the contempt matter is concluded. If signed, however, then the order, application and affidavit are personally served on the other side. The matter is set for hearing on the order, at which time the other side must appear or face the possibility of a bench warrant issued for their arrest. In court, the judge will receive evidence, testimony and exhibits, from both sides to determine whether the party was in willful and contumacious contempt of court. This is a fairly high bar for the court to reach, but it will make such a finding if you have provided the court with sufficient evidence of the alleged contempt.

If there is a finding of contempt, then the court will issue an order of contempt and sentence. The sentence most often requires the party in contempt to turn themselves in to local law enforcement by a date certain and serve jail time. However, the contempt order also provides the contemptible party with the “keys to their jail cell,” or purge plan for them to follow to purge themselves of the contempt. For example, if a party is found in contempt for having failed to pay child support or alimony, the purge plan may require them to pay past due support by a certain date. If they do, then they have satisfied the purge plan and no longer have to report to jail. If they do not, on the other hand, then the other party will inform the court. If they do not report to jail to serve their sentence as ordered, then the court will issue a bench warrant.

A party can get out of order in a domestic relations case. In Nebraska, should the matter remain unresolved your remedy is to file a contempt of court action. For further assistance and advice with this and other issues in your case, please contact the experienced team of family law experts at Slowiaczek Albers & Whelan PC, LLO to schedule your initial consultation.

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