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FAILING TO ABIDE BY A COURT ORDER IN TENNESSEE

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Your failure to abide by a Court Order can have dire consequences. The most traumatic of which can result in your being incarcerated by the Judge.

Failing to abide by the Court Order is Contempt of Court.

In Tennessee, there are two types of Contempt of Court – Civil Contempt of Court and Criminal Contempt of Court.

Both, however, can result in your being jailed.

With Civil Contempt, you basically hold the keys to the jail. Do what the Order says – such as pay your child support - and the Judge may release you.

With Criminal Contempt – you are being jailed as punishment for failing to abide by the Court Order. A judge can jail you 10 days for each violation.

There are defenses to Contempt.

One defense is whether or not you willfully violated the Court Order in place. For instance, did you not pay your support simply to spite the other parent or did you not pay it because you didn’t have a job and could not find one.

You have to prove your defense to the Judge and it will be up to the Judge to determine if you are willfully in Contempt of Court or not.

Sometimes, your very behavior in Court can be considered Contempt.

Although you may be upset in Court, the last thing you want to do is be disrespectful to the Judge, another party or the other attorney. Don’t raise your voice, don’t slam things, don’t slam doors and don’t make inappropriate comments in the courtroom. A judge can deem that behavior contempt and punish you accordingly.

Contempt of Court is never to be taken lightly. There are certainly defenses but when you are served with a Contempt Petition be sure to learn your rights.

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BRODY KANE has been practicing since 1995. A graduate of the University Of Memphis Law School, Brody has practiced in Memphis and Lebanon, Tennessee. While in law school Brody served as a judicial law clerk to the Shelby County Criminal Judges.

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