SC: Contempt & Enforcement

Once a judge signs a court order, it becomes enforceable by the contempt powers of the court.  This is true whether the order was the result of a contested trial or hearing, or whether the order was entered after the parties crafted their own agreement and consent order.

To establish that the offending party is in contempt of the court order, the party filing the complaint for contempt must show that:

  • The order is still in effect;
  • The purpose of the order can still be served by compliance with the order;
  • The failure to comply with the order was willful; and
  • The person was able to comply or take reasonable steps to comply with the order.

A party found in contempt can be faced with monetary sanctions and/or imprisonment, so if you have been served with an action seeking to find you in contempt, you must speak to an attorney as soon as possible.  The most common contempt action is a contempt action seeking to find a person in contempt of court for failure to pay child support. The judges in South Carolina do not hesitate to place people they find in contempt in jail.  There is almost nothing we can do after you have been found in contempt.  If anyone can prove you should not be found in contempt, it must be done during the hearing.  So, make sure you consult with an attorney.

If you feel that the other party to your court action has not fulfilled their obligations and are considering filing an action for contempt, we will help you decide whether that will result in getting you what you need.