A Show Cause Order is a directive to appear in Court and prove why one should not be held in either civil or criminal contempt of Court. The most frequent reason for the issuance of a Show Cause Order involves allegations of failure to comply with a Court Order. The focus of this blog article will be on Family Law issues such as child support and alimony. Failure to appear in Court for a Show Cause hearing will likely result in an Order for arrest, so attendance is mandatory.
What are possible reasons for a Show Cause Order?
Who has the burden of proof?
If an Order to Show Cause has been signed by a Judge, then the Defendant has the burden of proof to show why he or she should not be held in contempt. If there is simply a Motion to Show Cause and no Order to Show Cause then the moving party has the burden.
Is there any defense to a Show Cause Order?
Aside from denying non-compliance with the Court Order the usual defense is that the Defendant does not have the ability to comply with the Order and hence any failure to comply with the Order is not “willful”.
If I lost my job and can’t pay child support or alimony is that a defense?
It may be a defense if you were laid off due to conditions out of your control, but if you were fired for cause then that is a usually a huge problem for the defendant. If your income has simply declined then you may need to file a motion to modify child support ASAP as the old amount due continues to accrue until modified by the Court. Simply stating you can’t afford to pay your other bills and pay child support is usually not a winning argument.
What is the difference between civil and criminal contempt?
Criminal contempt is intended to punish past behavior via jail or sanction such as paying attorney fees or fines. Civil contempt is usually intended to make the Defendant obey a Court Order going forward.
What are the grounds for criminal contempt?
There are numerous grounds such as disrupting Court to not complying with conditions of probation, but as discussed earlier the most common reason is “willful” non-compliance with a Court Order.
What is the punishment for criminal contempt?
Under N.C.G.S. 5A-12 a person who commits criminal contempt, whether direct or indirect, is subject to censure, imprisonment up to 30 days, a fine not to exceed $500.00, or any combination of the three.
What are the grounds for civil contempt?
Under N.C.G.S. 5A-21 failure to comply with an order of a court is a continuing civil contempt as long as:
What is the punishment for civil contempt?
Under N.C.G.S. 5A-21(b2) the period of imprisonment for a person found in civil contempt shall not exceed 90 days for the same act of disobedience or refusal to comply with an order of the court. A person who has not purged himself or herself of the contempt within the period of imprisonment imposed by the court under this subsection may be recommitted for one or more successive periods of imprisonment, each not to exceed 90 days. However, the total period of imprisonment for the same act of disobedience or refusal to comply with the order of the court shall not exceed 12 months.
Am I entitled to a Court appointed attorney?
If you are facing imprisonment and cannot afford an attorney you may be entitled to a Court appointed attorney.
* The Forms provided below are for illustrative purposes only. They should not be relied upon or filed with the Court. Please seek legal counsel before filing anything with the Court.