Bringing a Solid Contempt Petition in Illinois Family Court

Is it time to file a contempt petition in Illinois family court? When you have an Illinois Court Order that is incorporated into a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage it details the provisions that are required for each party to follow. But if a party fails to follow through with the terms of a Parenting Agreement, Allocation Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a process for bringing that party back to court to enforce what the judgment requires them to do, or in some cases, not do.

Parenting Agreement/Allocation Judgments and Marital Settlement Agreements are extremely detailed documents, which makes it easy for someone to inadvertently violate the order, at some point in time. Inadvertent violations are typically easily resolved without court intervention because once the violation is pointed out by one party to the other, it is quickly resolved. When a Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement is violated purposefully or willfully, it is a whole other story. However, when an order is violated purposefully or willfully without cause or justification, it is a whole other story.

Indirect Civil Contempt for Refusal to Abide by a Court Order

Civil Contempt Proceedings

Criminal Contempt Actions

  • details of the charge, an opportunity to answer,
  • has a privilege against self-incrimination,
  • the presumption of innocence and
  • in this case, the person bringing the contempt petition must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person violated the court’s order.

In addition, in a criminal contempt proceeding, the person alleged to have violated a court order has a right to counsel.

It is important to cover all of your bases when filing a contempt petition to create a rebuttable presumption of contempt, upon the review of the pleading. This also means you should execute your contempt petition and make it verified (which is required for all pleadings in Cook County). These tips assist in getting the motion before the Court and avoiding any situations where a Judge can say that something should have been done prior to filing the contempt petition.

Contempt Petitions During COVID-19

Do courts find it to be contempt if you keep your children from going to the other parents’ home?

Court’s have definitely found this to be contempt in some cases and not in others. The court will look at how far the parties live apart, how they travel from one home to the other, are the parents working from home or are they essential workers going out into the community, do either parent live with an elderly person or are the children immuno-compromised? All of these things are taken into consideration when a contempt petition is filed during COVID-19.

Contempt Petitions Related to School

Contempt requires detail and proof of any violation and a finding that the violation was willful. Each case has different facts and proof available and should be reviewed with an attorney for an evaluation. For guidance with a potential contempt petition or compliance with a family court order, contact Anderson & Boback today for a free consultation. Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help!


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