I had a friend who was really angry about something her ex had done and she said, "I want him to be in contempt!"
The thing I said to her is that as far as I know there hasn't been an honest to goodness contempt that actually led to a judge's ruling probably since Reverend Hooker led his congregation down from New Town (or what is now called Cambridge) and resettled them here in the Hartford area in around 1638.
Ok, maybe this isn't true. But one thing I will say is that abusers have a remarkable ability to get away with disobeying court orders. Whenever you do something wrong, the opposing attorney slams you. But when your abuser does something he just goes along happily without anyone holding him accountable. Are you like me? You ask yourself, how does he do that, always get away with murder?
I'll tell you one important factor which affects the way abusers get away with flaunting the rules. It has to do with contempts. When it comes to contempts, lawyers have an amazing ability to snooker their clients, i.e. abused women. Their clients say "do something about that" (whatever nasty thing the abuser did!) and the attorney will run off and submit a Motion For Contempt to the court, come back to his or her client and say, "See! I filed a contempt!"
That leaves the client, some fooled person such as you or me feeling, ok, my attorney has done something. Well, no, the attorney hasn't actually done something. You see, what an attorney has done doesn't really count as having done something unless something truly happens as a result of his or her actions.
You see, there are honest to goodness contempts, and then there are contempts that lawyers file simply to make fooled people such as you and me THINK they are doing something!
A true and honest to goodness motion for contempt takes place when your attorney goes to court personally and files a contempt motion and gets a "date certain" for a hearing on that motion for contempt. When I say "date certain", I mean a certain date with a specific time, meaning that when the attorney personally filed that contempt motion, he scheduled with the clerk a specific date and time when the hearing on the motion will be held. That date is written on a Notice to the party who is being filed against. For your information, to my knowledge, there is no fee for filing such a motion for contempt.
The Motion and the Notice with the specific date and time of day when the motion will be heard are then delivered by a State Marshall to the other party. Getting a marshall to deliver a motion can cost anywhere from $40 to $70, depending on how the marshall chooses to charge you. If a marshall figures you are well off, he is likely to charge you the higher price.
If the other party does not show up on the date and time specified on the notice, he or she is in a whole lot of trouble, and I mean a lot. If you send or receive a contempt that is handled in this manner, this is a contempt you need to worry about and take seriously.
On the other hand, if your attorney, or if you received, a Motion for Contempt that was clearly sent to the court by fax and will probably end up on the list of all the other motions that need to be handled in your divorce case, don't hold your breath waiting for it to be addressed by the court. Most likely, that contempt motion is only so much paper to be shuffled with all the other incidental and unimportant paper in your case.
If you challenge your lawyer on that point, he or she is likely to say, I'm holding the contempt off until a few months from now when we go to trial. RIIIGGHHT! The likelihood is that you are very unlikely to go to trial. The vast majority of divorce cases in the State of Connecticut are settled by negotiation and I'll bet you that yours will be settled by negotiation as well. So, you'll come to trial, settle by negotiation instead, so the motion/s for contempt will never come to the attention of the judge.
The other scenario is that by the time the months have passed before trial, and then the trial has been continued for a few extra months, the timeliness of your contempt will have deteriorated and it will all end in nothing.
Of course, all attorney's are aware of this!
Your attorney knows, and so does the opposing attorney who giggles upon receipt of a faxed contempt and throws it right away into file 13, also known as the circular file, or garbage can.
Both attorneys know what is going on; it's called pacifying and shutting your client up and making a little money while you are at it.
In the long run, the way you can tell a winner from a loser in a divorce contest is that the winning attorney generally sends out real contempts, while the losing attorney sends out fake ones. Now I'm not saying fabricate a reason to send some contempts by marshall so you can make sure you are on the winning side. But what I am saying is that when you see this little trick passing before your eyes, don't just shut them. Confront your attorney and say either do it real or don't do it at all, because you are costing me money--fake contempts cost money--and, please, I am not a fool.
Number one in any divorce case is that your lawyer knows you are a client they have to contend with.