Contempt of court


Outcomes in family court are too often not based on the truth - or a reasonable interpretation of the evidence presented - and therefore lack legitimacy. Regardless, even a “bad” order must be followed or you risk serious consequences.

As for the other side’s attorney fees, if you can’t pay, you can’t pay. You just need to convince the court of this, which, unfortunately, is easier said than done. You cannot be found to have willfully defied a court order if you truly lack the means to comply.

Take a look at the relevant statute, N.C.G.S. 5A ( … er_5A.html). Most likely you’re looking at civil contempt, so pay particular attention to sections 21 through 23 of this statute.

Unless you have a good excuse the judge will likely be…er…“displeased.” You could be fined, imprisoned, or both. The judge might order you to pay a small amount every week until the entire amount is paid off, or might do something else altogether. Good luck!


I have a major issue. I am due to be in court for a contempt case that from where I haven’t been able to make payment on attorney’s fees that I was ordered to pay. When the order came out I asked my attorney if there was anything that can be done about me making those payments since the decision was based on false information and I don’t make enough to pay. I never got an answer. Now I’m finally getting a letter saying I have to go back to court for contempt.

Is there anything I can do?

What are the chances I will end up in jail?