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Can You Go to Jail For Contempt in an Illinois Divorce Case?

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyer contempt of courtIt is true that divorce is a stressful process that is wrought with emotions. Divorcing your spouse is a serious life change that can cause distress for the whole family, but it is not just an emotional process. First and foremost, divorce is a legal process that comes with certain legal requirements. There are many times during a divorce that the court may order you to do things, and these orders are not suggestions — they are legally-binding and required by law. In some cases, refusing to cooperate with the court’s orders can result in jail time until the orders are followed. 

What Is Contempt of Court?

Being in contempt of court is something you should do your best to avoid. If you are considered to be in contempt of court, you either did something that the judge specifically told you not to do or you did not do something that the judge ordered you to do. For example, a parent may be held in contempt if they refuse to follow their court-ordered parenting time schedule or if they do not meet requirements for paying child support.

To be held in contempt of court, a judge must prove that you willfully and knowingly violated a court order. To do this, the court must prove the following:

  1. You knew about the court order;

  2. You knowingly violated the order, even though you had the ability to comply with the order; and

  3. You do not have any reasonable explanation as to why you disobeyed the order.

A Recent Contempt Case

In a recent Illinois divorce case, the husband was put in jail for failure to follow an interim fee order. The wife, who was unemployed and took care of seven children from the marriage, filed for divorce from her husband in 2016. In the petition for divorce, the wife stated that she did not have the capacity to pay for attorney’s fees, though the husband, who was estimated to have a net worth of $20 to $22 million, did have such finances.

The husband was ordered to pay $550,000 in interim fees to cover the costs of the wife’s legal representation, expert witnesses, and the children’s representative. The husband did not comply with the order, stating that the court was wrong in assuming he had the ability to pay the fees, despite evidence that he could. Days after the husband was jailed for contempt of court, he posted the required $550,000 in fees.

A Naperville, IL Divorce Attorney Can Help You With an Uncooperative Spouse

It can be extremely frustrating if your spouse decides they do not want to comply with court orders, but you have a variety of options for enforcement of your divorce decree or other orders put in place by the court. If you are dealing with an uncooperative spouse during your divorce, you should get in touch with a DuPage County divorce lawyer who has experience dealing with these types of issues. At the Goostree Law Group, our attorneys have more than 80 years of combined family law experience, and we can help you take steps to ensure your ex meets their legal requirements. Call our office today at 630-364-4046 to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:

https://courts.illinois.gov/Opinions/AppellateCourt/2020/1stDistrict/1181116.pdf

https://www.mydomaine.com/what-is-contempt-of-court-after-divorce-1103373

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