Motion For Contempt: The Principle vs The Cost

Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. posted in Finances on Wednesday, July 08, 2015.

By Allison Schreiber Lee

I often have clients call me to tell me that their ex is behind on reimbursement of sports, activities, camps, uncovered medical, etc. They want to know what they can do to force their ex to pay what s/he is supposed to pay per the Parenting Plan. The answer is that the only way to force someone to pay what they are supposed to pay pursuant to the Parenting Plan is to take them back to court for contempt.

But saying that someone is in contempt and proving it are two different things. First of all you have to prove that the person owes the money in the first place. I usually advise clients to scan a receipt of the expense that they have paid (within 7 days of paying the money if at all possible, or as your parenting plan requires) and attach that to an email to the ex required to pay, requesting reimbursement. I would then start a spreadsheet of the money owed. I would continue to send the emails and update the spreadsheet until there is an amount of money owed that you believe requires a discussion with an attorney.

You also have to prove not just that the person owes the money, but also that s/he has the ability to pay and did not. The proof of this often includes looking at where the person works, how they are paying their current expenses, possibly send subpoenas for bank account records or credit card records, and taking depositions, just as examples.

As you can tell, the proof of a motion for contempt for failure to pay for children’s needs can be expensive, which is why you have to decide when it is worth it for you to incur the expenses of retaining an attorney to file the motion for contempt and then go about proving it. For many, the cost of paying an attorney and the likelihood the ex-spouse still might not be able to pay must be weighed against the principle that your ex should be paying and is not. To discuss a motion for contempt or any other family law matters, please contact one of the attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.

Disclaimer

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee

Allison Schreiber Lee is a seasoned trial attorney and has been lead counsel in more than 40 jury trials. In 2011, Ms. Schreiber Lee was co-lead counsel in one of the longest jury trials in the history of the City of St. Louis. Ms. Lee has also tried more than 100 non-jury trials to verdict, including representation in divorce and modification hearings.