Frequently Asked Colorado Contempt of Court Questions Part 2
- Am I entitled to an attorney if contempt charges are brought against me?
While Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 107 only speaks of the right to an attorney in a punitive contempt of court situation, there is case law supporting the notion that there is a right to an attorney in a contempt proceeding any time jail time is sought. Jail time can be sought in both a remedial or punitive contempt proceeding. The question of whether jail time is being sought will generally be raised at the first hearing, called the advisement. The right to an attorney essentially implies that if a person is deemed “indigent” based on his or her financial circumstances that he or she will have an attorney appointed to him or her by the court. The person will initially fill out a state form called a JDF-208 form, which lists income, assets, and expenses. The court will then determine if the person meets state guidelines to be declared indigent. The right to an attorney in a contempt situation stems from the fact that it is quasi-criminal in nature. The right to an attorney in a contempt cases often leads people to mistakenly believe that they are automatically entitled to a court-appointed attorney in a divorce or custody case.
- What happens if I don’t show up at court for my contempt hearing?
Failing to show up for court in a contempt action has different ramifications depending upon whether a person is bringing the contempt action or whether he or she is the one being accused of violating court orders. If the person filing the contempt motion fails to show up for a court date, whether the advisement or the evidentiary hearing, his or her contempt motion will be dismissed. In some jurisdictions, the court does not care if the party bringing the contempt shows up for the advisement, so long as his or her attorney is present.
If the person against whom the contempt is brought fails to show, the other party has various options. Generally, that party will ask the court to issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused and the posting of a cash bond. In Denver area divorce, custody cases, and child support cases, our attorneys most often see contempt actions filed for non-payment of child support or alimony. Generally, the bond requested will be in an amount correlating with the amount of back child support or alimony owed. For the court to issue a warrant for failure to appear, the party bringing the contempt must be able to produce valid documents indicating that the accused was personally served.
- What happens if I cannot get the other party served with contempt papers in time?
The party against whom a contempt of court action is filed must be served with the relevant paperwork 20 days prior to the initial advisement hearing. If he or she cannot be served in time, the family law court will generally issue what is called an “alias summons,” which will set forth a new advisement date. This summons should be served with the original papers. Difficulties in getting a person served do arise from time to time. It is not uncommon for people in contempt of court to avoid service. Courts know this and statute makes allowances for such situations.
Main Contempt of Court FAQs