August 7, 2023 | Other

Contempt Of Court: Interfering With Justice

What Is Contempt Of Court?

In the context of family law, contempt proceedings take place when someone refuses to comply with a judgement or any court order. When a judgment is rendered, it becomes enforceable, therefore, disobeying or ignoring a judgment without reason can result in civil and criminal consequences. Even though it is not what you consider is a typical crime, this quasi-penal proceeding is not to be taken lightly.

Punishment for contempt of court can be a fine as high as $10,000 in Quebec and result in compensatory community work or a prison sentence not exceeding one year, according to article 62 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In family law, contempt of court is a last resort when children are involved, seeing as this conviction rarely improves the relationship between the parents especially when one of them acts against a parenting agreement, for example. 

What to do if your ex does not comply with a judgment?

A recourse to enforce compliance of a judgment can be used exceptionally to reprimand the dishonest conduct of the non-compliant party. In perspective, if there is a child custody judgment rendered allowing Parent 1 to see the child 50% of the time, but Parent 2 refuses to let the child see Parent 1 as per the agreement, Parent 2 risks being convicted of contempt of court.

Due to the fact that contempt of court is used as a final measure, another possible recourse is seizure by bailiff otherwise known as forced execution. Let’s say a final judgment requires that one spouse owes support to another, but the payments have not been made following court orders, you can proceed to seize their assets by bailiff before a contempt of court proceeding. These assets could include a vehicle, furniture, salary, bank accounts, liquid cash, etc. Normally Revenu Quebec is responsible for the collection of support; however, if Revenu Quebec does not act quickly enough, you can proceed with seizure by bailiff to recover the amounts owing.

Before moving forward with any proceeding, it is recommended to speak with a lawyer to ensure that you find the best possible solution especially if children are involved.