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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 30384
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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What is the difference between filing for a motion for contempt

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What is the difference between filing for a motion for contempt (for removing all marital property against the court order) and suing for monetary value?

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There may be a slight delay in response time, as I may be helping with other questions or I may be away from the computer. I will answer any follow-up questions as soon I can.

Contempt of court isn't just about paying for the value of the property. A judge can impose fines on the person, or put him in jail until the order is complied with - in addition to ordering payment of the value of the items to the complaining party.

Also, if there is an existing court order in place, a Small Claims judge can't overrule the family court judge. The mechanism in place for enforcing an existing court order is to go back to the original judge and file a Motion for Contempt. If the party sues separately, the judge will often refer you back to the initial court.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.

We are close to getting the divorce. Does it make more sense to request a contempt of court (in order for me to get the items returned or to get reimbursed for the items taken out of the house) or does it make more sense to request that in the divorce settlement agreement? If the settlement agreement says I will be reimbursed, what is the process to have that enforced if they do not comply?

There's really no reason you can't file a Motion for Contempt and then mention somewhere in the Settlement Agreement that you're supposed to have those items. But, if you already have a court order, and he's not following it, getting a second court order that he's not going to follow isn't really going to benefit you. That's why it's sometimes better to get a contempt ruling, to get him to follow the order going forward. If a person thinks he can ignore a court order, and nothing will happen, that's likely to inspire him to keep ignoring it.

If the settlement agreement says that you'll be reimbursed, the enforcement mechanism is the same - file a contempt of court motion. If he willfully fails to comply, the judge has the ability to put him in jail until he pays, or he can order that he pay fines.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

ok. So how do I get a contempt ruling? Opposing counsel is suggesting we do the contempt of court on the same day of the divorce settlement (unless we come up with our own settlement agreement that states what is owed me). I just want my possessions back.

All you have to do is file a Motion that tells the judge (a) what the court order said, (b) that the other party has not complied, and (c) asking the judge to sanction him for noncompliance. It usually is a good idea to attach a copy of the order. There's no reason you can't have the hearing on the same day you're going to court, anyway, but you don't have to do that. You can ask for an earlier hearing, depending on when the hearing is. If you think the other party is just giving all of your belongings away, it may be better to file the motion earlier.
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