Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Contempt is Quasi-Criminal

Contempt is often though of as a civil remedy, but it is actually 

treated like criminal one because it can involve putting a person in jail for defying a court's order.  Therefore legal proceedings for contempt of child support or possession and access orders are styled as "quasi-criminal"

Because of this, enhanced attention to due process is paid by the courts.  Many of the rights of the accused that are usual seen only in criminal court are often seen in child related enforcement proceedings.  This includes the right against self-incrimination and the right to appointed counsel. (TFC 157.163).  In addition, a lawyer practicing this kind of law has to be technically competent because there is very little "fudge factor" as with general domestic law practice.  Therefore those kinds of "loose" lawyers who usually practice by personality or the seat of their pants would do well to get a more technical minded co-counsel or better yet, steer clear of this area of law altogether.  Careful drafting of pleadings and orders is a MUST because one small error can be devastating to your case.  And unlike divorce and other family law practice, there is no opportunity for a "re-do" if the lawyer screws up.  Double jepordy applies here.