Standard for Proving Civil Contempt

Civil Contempt for Violating an Order

When a party to a divorce violates an order in the case the other party can ask the court to hold the violator in contempt, which can land the violator in jail, force him to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees, fine him up to $1,000 and other sanctions at the discretion of the court.

As a general rule, in order to prove contempt for failure to comply with a court order it must be shown that the person cited for contempt knew what was required, had the ability to comply, and intentionally failed or refused to do so. Von Hake v. Thomas, 759 P.2d 1162 (1988). These three elements must be proven by clear and convincing evidence in a civil contempt proceeding. Id.

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