Family court orders – be they final or temporary – bestow duties and obligations upon one or all parties to a family court proceeding. Sometimes, people find that the other party fails to comply with these duties and obligations. For example, one party may not be allowing the other party to see his/her child or may not be complying with the alimony obligations owed to the other. If that occurs, the innocent party may seek enforcement of the family court’s order by filing for a rule to show cause. Doing so requires compliance with a specific procedure outlined by South Carolina law.
When a rule to show cause is issued, it requires the responding party’s attendance before the family court for an evidentiary hearing. At this proceeding, the responding party is allowed an opportunity to explain why he/she is not in willful contempt of the order. Throughout the proceeding, the presiding judge must determine whether 1) the responding party is in contempt and 2) whether he/she is in willful contempt.
At the conclusion of the proceeding, if the responding party is found to be in willful contempt, the court must determine whether the contempt is civil or criminal in nature. The type of contempt is contingent upon the sanctions to be imposed by the presiding judge. Sanctions may include public service, the imposition of a fine, and/or imprisonment for up to one year in a local detention facility.
If you are seeking enforcement of a family court order, or if you are accused of being in willful contempt of one, please call us at 864-585-5100 and let us help.
Blog post by attorney Tatyana Ustimchuk. Click here to read more about Tatyana.
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