What are the ramifications of contempt of court?


My husband and I had a consent order filed in Aug. of 2009. In the order, we share joint custody of our 2 children, though he has primary custody since we agreed he could move with them to NY. The order stated I would have visitation on holidays, school vacations and over the summer. He would make me aware of anything pertaining to the children such as medical issues, school performance etc. Since they left, phone contact went from nightly to nothing after about a month. I phone just about nightly on their cell phone I am paying for, but they refuse to answer the phone and do not return calls. They, along with my husband, blame me for breaking up our family for leaving an abusive situation. They did not come for Thanksgiving or Christmas. They feel as if I am being “mean” to their father because they have seen him cry and he has told them how sad he is and how much he wants our family back together. He has not kept me informed of their school performance. I have initiated contact with their teachers by email and have kept in touch during the school year.

In addition, he has not paid a two credit card bills, one of which is joint. Because he quit his job to move, the car he is driving, which was financed and titled in my name, could not be refinanced into his name since the bank would not give him a loan because he would be unemployed. So we agreed that once our house sold, he would have to refinance within a month’s time. He has begun to not make the payments, which in addition to non-payment of the credit card, is effecting my credit. I pay $800 a month in child support, in addition to carrying the children on my health and dental insurance. He said he had a job lined up with his brother, but once he got up there said he was going to collect unemployment for a while to help the children adjust to their new living arrangement.

So, my question is, if I pursue a motion for contempt, what would the potential outcome be? Before they moved, the children’s behavior towards me was completely disrespectful and difficult to manage. If they were forced to leave their father to live with me, I can’t imagine how I would handle their behavior then. It’ almost as if they see themselves as a protector for their father and they will say and do anything to try to make him happy. They are verbally abusive, use swear words and laugh at me when I have attempted to redirect them or discipline them. It is a classic parental alienation scenario. If my husband continued to be in contempt and jail time may be a possibility, that would ruin any possibility of a relationship with them, since they already see me as the one to blame for everything.

Although I know the $ I pay each month is to support the children, in order to ensure that the debts are paid timely, particularly since he is unemployed, would a judge agree to me paying the debts first for him and then paying him the difference in child support? Our one year separation is in March and I’m just not sure how to proceed. Any advice you could give would be appreciated.


I cannot predict the outcome of any given case, however if you court order is specific and your ex is found to be wilfully in violation of the provisions of the Order the law says he is in contempt. The remedy will be up to the court, but could involve fines and or jail time until your ex complies with the terms of the Order.

The judge will allow you to divert your child support payments to the martial debts.