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Is there ever grounds for appealing a contempt of court final judgement

Lithonia, GA |

My ex and I went to court in 2011 and he was told that since he'd repeatedly moved further and further away from me he would now be responsible for paying for all travel for my son to visit me. He violated that order and was found in contempt of court in 2013. There were parts of the order that were ambiguous and the judge clarified those parts in her final order, but she did not change the previous order . However, the contempt was based upon parts of the order that were straightforward and my ex's own testimony. He is now saying that the judge should have asked for a financial affidavit before making her final order because he now has to pay for 11 plane tickets in a 12 month period. Was she obligated to do that? Is there grounds for an appeal

I forgot to add he's asking for a discretionary appeal

Attorney Answers 3

  1. It's hard to say what the grounds could be. Did you have an attorney for the hearing? If so then discuss this with them. Did your ex have an attorney?

    It may be your ex just trying to be difficult. If he appeals then you will get notice and you will need to respond. If he appeals then you need to hire an attorney to respond to the appeal. Until he appeals the Order stands and is enforceable.

  2. There are grounds to appeal contempt judgments or orders, but it's difficult to say if that is your case here without seeing the order. You would have to wait to see if your ex is going to appeal and if so, then you would need to get an appellate attorney to represent you. Appeals are difficult for lawyers who don't do them, so imagine how difficult they are for parties. An appellate attorney will help discuss a strategy for your case.

    In many states, if a party moves further away continuously, that party will have to pay for the travel regardless of how much he or she is making. He is the one who moved -- you didn't, so I understand why the judge ordered it. If your ex didn't pay for it, then I understand the contempt holding as well. Just because he wants to appeal doesn't mean he will be given the right to appeal if the appeal is discretionary. Seek appellate counsel when needed, and I agree with my colleague that your ex sounds like he's trying to give you a hard time about this. That doesn't mean the order isn't valid -- it is until it's overturned, if at all -- so that's the order that everyone has to follow, including your ex. Good luck to you.

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  3. Rulings of the trial court in contempt actions are largely discretionary. Also, a court can clarify its previous order in a contempt order, but not if the clarification goes so far that it becomes a modification. There are no bright line rules to distinguish between permissible clarifications and impermissible modifications. The appellate court will rule based on the facts in the record.

    This answer to the preceding question should not be considered legal advice to any person, including the person who asked the question. Much more specific information is required in order for the attorney to give meaningful legal advice. Any person should consult with an attorney about the specific facts in his/her case.