Everyone who is familiar with the legal system has, at some point, encountered a judicial order or case that they thought was wrongly decided. In your family law case, it is very important to know how to respond to various situations, including receiving an order that you think was incorrectly decided. A recent case originating in Sarasota County, and recently considered by the Fifth District Court of Appeal, is an example of a case with an injunction that one spouse thought was improper, and the erroneous way that he dealt with it.
The case involved the divorce of a couple named Todd and Ashley. In the early portion of the case, the trial judge issued an injunction, which is a type of court order that orders the subjects to refrain from doing certain things. This injunction told the husband that he was prohibited from “selling, transferring, alienating, pledging, forfeiting, hypothecating, encumbering, mortgaging, dissipating, spending and/or purchasing, and/or concealing and/or otherwise alienating any real property, personal property, securities, cash, or other assets or income of any kind or nature in which he holds an interest.” In other words, he was barred from doing anything with any of his assets other than maintaining them in good faith.
The husband believed that the trial judge had committed a legal error in issuing this injunction and that, under the law, the prohibition should never have been put in place. So what can you do if you are the subject of an injunction that bars you from doing certain things, but you think that the injunction was illegal? You have various options, but they generally all involve utilizing the legal system, including the appellate process, to get the injunction thrown out. You do NOT, however, have the option of simply deciding that you think the order is improper under the law, and, therefore, you are going to ignore it and go ahead and do things that were included in the list of prohibitions in the injunction order.
That latter option, unfortunately, was what Todd did. As a result, Ashley brought an action asking the trial judge to hold Todd in contempt of court. The trial judge concluded that the husband’s behaviors met all of the legal criteria and, as a result, issued an order finding him in contempt.
The husband appealed but lost. In a footnote to its opinion, the appeals court made the important observation that the husband acknowledged violating the injunction. The husband argued that, in spite of his non-compliance, he should not be found in contempt because the order itself was improper. As the appeals court explained, though, the husband’s approach was not a permissible one. “Regardless of the injunction’s propriety, the order ‘must be obeyed until vacated or modified by court or until it has been reversed on appeal, no matter how unreasonable or erroneous,’” the court of appeal very clearly instructed.
Those are your options. You can seek relief from the trial judge. You can seek relief from the appeals court. You can NOT seek relief by simply ignoring the order and going forward in defiance of it. If you do, you can realistically face punishment for contempt, even if the order was “unreasonable or erroneous.”
Whether you are in a divorce action, child custody dispute, or other family law case, you can count on the experienced South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A. to provide you with the strong advice and representation you need with regard to contempt proceedings. Our attorneys have been helping our clients and their families achieve beneficial outcomes for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.
More blog posts:
What are Your Rights When Your Ex-Spouse Isn’t Complying With Your Florida Marital Settlement Agreement?, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Dec. 21, 2017
Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Law Offices Wins Appeal for Florida Man Wrongfully Jailed for Contempt, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 18, 2016