The purpose of civil contempt is to obtain compliance with a child support, alimony or general court order and can only be used when the contemnor has the ability to comply.
First, your divorce lawyer in Fort Lauderdale must have the court determine whether the defaulting party has willfully violated the court order. Next, the court must determine the appropriate remedial measure. If the Florida marital and family law judge orders that the contemnor is to be jailed, the court must make a specific finding that he or she has the present ability to pay the purge.
In Aburos v Aburos, the former husband appealed an order finding him in indirect civil contempt and requiring him to be incarcerated which was entered by Miami divorce court Judge Amy Steele Donner for failing to pay the former wife alimony and child support pursuant to the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage. Specifically, the former wife asked the trial court to find the former husband in contempt of court for his failure to pay $1,700 per month for permanent periodic alimony and $1,693 per month in child support.
At the hearing, the former husband alleged that he has $52 in his bank account and a car worth $1,350. He also testified that he earned $2,160 per month working in his sister’s retail store and lived in his sister’s apartment. It was also revealed that while the former husband had access to the store’s bank account which contained $25,000 and a signature stamp used to pay normal business operating expenses, he was not authorized to issue checks or withdraw funds for his personal use.
In reversing the decision of the trial court, the Third District Court of Appeal found that the former husband did not have the present ability to pay the $25,000 purge. The court reasoned that the former husband’s ability to pay was based upon his access to his sister’s bank account and his sister’s present ability to pay the purge. The court further stated that the trial court erred in relying upon the good fortune and resources of the former husband’s family member since the former husband was not permitted to legally use his sister’s bank account for his own personal purposes.