April 25, 2017
In many South Carolina family law cases the parties reach agreement rather than have the judge rule on all issues involved in their divorce or custody case. There are two general reasons for this: (1) it saves time and money, and (2) the parties get to have a say and keep some control over what happens in their own lives. Both of these are what most Greer, South Carolina family law litigants are seeking. They want something in writing so they don’t have to deal with a partner they’ve been struggling with for a great deal of time and they also want to not spend a fortune to do it.
However, even when things are in writing, some people still do not cooperate. This could be for a variety of reasons: maybe the other parent is running low on money and can’t pay their child support on time or maybe they just want to make the other party’s life difficult. Every situation is different, but you do have a course of action when your former partner breaks the agreement that you made.
A very important part of entering into these agreements is the formal process of taking it to court and having a South Carolina Family Court judge approve the agreement and make it an order of the court. This seemingly simple task is a sort of magic wand. Once the judge makes that agreement the order of the court, any violation of that agreement isn’t just breaking the promise to the other party, but it’s breaking a promise to the court as well. A willful violation of a court order is called contempt, and it is how the South Carolina Family Court enforces the decisions it makes.
Being held in contempt of court carries serious consequences. The penalties are listed in S.C. Code § 63-3-620. The court can order the other party to spend up to one year in jail, fine him or her up to $1,500.00 or make him or her perform up to 300 hours of community service unless and until that party complies with the court order. Further, the South Carolina Family Court judge can order the other party to pay the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees and costs for bringing the contempt action and the violating party’s ability or inability to pay these fees is not a factor in the judge setting these fees.
However, you need to act if another party breaks the agreement. The process is to file a Rule to Show Cause as to why they did not comply with the agreement and order. Essentially, this is an affidavit that you fill out and send to the court, then the court will set a hearing for you and your partner to come to court and the court will investigate from both sides and determine if someone willfully violated the court order. Rules to Show Cause have special service rules and can be complicated procedurally to a person not familiar with the process. You will be well served to seek the assistance of a Greer, South Carolina family law attorney.
The issue of contempt of court and Rules to Show Cause in South Carolina can be a tricky one and has serious legal consequences. You should speak with an experienced Greer, South Carolina family law attorney regarding these issues.
King Law Offices is a full service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day. We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina. Call 888-748-KING (5464) today for a free consultation.