One of the reasons to hire a Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney during your marital and family law case in Broward County is to protect you during a contempt or enforcement hearing so that you do not wind up behind bars. Your spouse may request that the judge hold you in civil or criminal contempt of court if you do not pay your child support, alimony or attorney’s fees and costs. However, the Broward County judge can not incarcerate you in jail for a debt that you owe your spouse pursuant to a property settlement agreement.
A former Philadelphia lawyer was ordered released from jail today after serving 14 years in prison for a contempt of court charge. He was incarcerated for failing to turn over $2,500,000.00 from a divorce distribution settlement. While he contends that the money was lost in a bad investment, his ex-wife says that he sent the money outside of the USA.
During a hearing this week, the contemnor testified that he did not control the missing funds or have posession or knowledge concerning them. His lawyer argued that the civil contempt order was not effective and had turned punitive. The former wife’s lawyer argued that there was no constitutional limit on civil confinement.
Contempt is a refusal to obey a legal order, mandate or decree. It can also be an act tending to embarass, hinder or obstruct court in the administration of justice or to lessen its authority or dignity. Civil contempt is remedial and coercive whereas criminal contempt is designed to punish.