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Contempt and Enforcement

When a judge makes a legal ruling, it binds all of the parties involved. On occasion, however, one or the parties disregards the court’s orders or strays from the court’s intended plan. In these cases, Idaho law gives the judge the power to enforce his or her legal ruling. Two of the methods that can be used to enforce a legal ruling are “contempt” and “enforcement.” When a party in your case fails to comply with a legal order, such as payment of support, Penrod | Swenson can petition the court on your behalf to use one of these measures to enforce the judgment already entered.


Contempt is a legal term that refers to a refusal to obey a legal order, mandate or decree that has been entered by a judge. Oftentimes, this may be a refusal to comply with a judge’s ruling at trial, i.e., to not bring up certain irrelevant facts, or refusal to pay child support payments.

There are two different types of contempt: civil and criminal. Civil contempt is generally used to convince a party to comply with a judicial order or decree. For example, suppose a judge orders a party to pay child support but that person—despite their ability to pay—willfully refuses to do so. To ensure that the judge’s order is followed, he may order that person be incarcerated until they decide to pay the ordered child support.

Criminal contempt is slightly different and is used by a judge to punish a party for a failure to comply with a court order. There are two kinds of criminal contempt, direct and indirect. Direct contempt refers to an act of contempt that is committed in the immediate presence of the court.  Indirect contempt, on the other hand, is an act committed outside the court’s presence. An example of indirect criminal contempt would be attempting to bribe opposing counsel.

If you have been awarded support payments of any kind, but are not receiving them from the person who was ordered to pay them, or if the other person has failed and/or refuses to honor the court's order, the Attorneys at Penrod | Swenson can ask the court to find that person in criminal or civil contempt of court.