Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Family Law Procedure

When a party fails to meet his or her obligations under a Florida child support or alimony order, he or she may be held in contempt of court. The party asking for contempt must show the other party had the ability to comply with the order but chose not to. But before taking the steps to prove this, a party must make sure he or she is in compliance with procedural rules to avoid having an order of contempt overturned on appeal. Such was the case in Hart v. Hart, 3D19-450 (Fla. 3d DCA July 24, 2019).

The former husband was held in contempt after the former wife filed a motion for contempt, enforcement and attorneys’ fees. On appeal, the former husband argued his due process rights were violated because the notice of hearing on the motion did not contain required language putting him on notice that he may be arrested if he failed to appear at the hearing. The former husband did not appear at the hearing, and presumably the trial court ordered that he be arrested.

Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.615(b) requires that a notice of hearing on a motion for failure to pay support contain the following language: “FAILURE TO APPEAR AT THE HEARING MAY RESULT IN THE COURT ISSUING A WRIT OF BODILY ATTACHMENT FOR YOUR ARREST. IF YOU ARE ARRESTED, YOU MAY BE HELD IN JAIL UP TO 48 HOURS BEFORE A HEARING IS HELD.” The former wife’s notice of hearing did not contain this language, and accordingly the appellate court sided with the former husband and reversed the order of contempt.

When you are facing a contempt motion or are seeking to hold the other party in contempt, it is important that you have a Miami family law attorney by your side helping you through the process. A consultation may help you decide the best way to move forward and help you understand your best claims and defenses.