Bringing a Solid Contempt Petition

Parenting Agreement/Allocation Judgments and Marital Settlement Agreements are extremely detailed documents, which makes it easy for someone to inadvertently violate the order, at some point in time. Inadvertent violations are typically easily resolved without court intervention, because once the violation is pointed out by one party to the other, it is quickly resolved. When a Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement is violated purposefully or willfully, it is a whole other story.

In scenarios where someone is willfully refusing to abide by a Judgment, the Court has the power to hold that person in indirect civil contempt of court. However, there is legwork which needs to be done, in most cases, in order to prove your case. For example, let’s say the Judgment says the parties equally split out of pocket medical expenses for their minor children. Let’s say one of the parties fails to pay their share. One of the first questions a Judge would ask in this scenario is “when did you send them the receipt? Did you send them a receipt at all?” They will want to know if the person was notified that the money is due. Next, they may want to see proof that a demand was made for payment. This can be done via email or text message. It can be done orally between the parties, but it leaves space for the non-payor to allege that it never happened. A strong contempt petition typically has one or multiple requests for compliance, made in writing or via e-mail or text message, otherwise it is easy for the other person to deny having received notice.

It is important to cover all of your bases when filing a contempt petition to create a rebuttable presumption of contempt, upon the review of the pleading. This also means you should execute your contempt petition and make it verified (which is required for all pleadings in Cook County). These tips assist in getting the motion before the Court and avoiding any situations where a Judge can say that something should have been done prior to filing the contempt petition.

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