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Remedial or Punitive Contempt of Court?

Broomfield, CO |

I'm ready to submit 29 Verified Motion and Affidavit for Citation of Contempt of Court and I don't know whether I should select Remedial or Punitive Contempt for these.

For this current Contempt, my ex-girlfriend has kept our two sons from me since June 1st. She has done this twice before. The first time she got a slap on the wrist, the second time I dropped the charges in favor of mediation. I'm not willing to be so lenient again.

Since this is a recurring issue, should I select Remedial or Punitive or specify something else entirely?

(I can't afford a lawyer, and I'm 'okay' doing this on my own, so please stick to answering the question. Thank you so much!)

Thank you all for your answers. I will consider filing a motion to enforce parenting time, and I certainly do want the time made up that I've missed.

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer

Punitive contempt is criminal in nature and requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Remedial carries a civil standard and involves a request for the Defendant to do something to correct the violation of the court order. If you are trying to address past behavior and she is not currently keeping the children from you, then you really have no choice. You cannot actually remedy past actions, punitive would be your only choice.

As noted above, depending on what you really want, contempt might not be the most appropriate course of action. Contempt is technical and time consuming and, as you have noticed, often the judge isn't interested in doing much more than scolding the Defendant and telling them not to do it again. If the problem involves your ex not giving you court ordered parenting time, you may be as well served by a motion to enforce parenting time and a request for make-up parenting time so you can have time with your children or even a motion to modify parenting time or even allocation of parental rights and responsibilities due to your ex's refusal to parent cooperatively. There are a lot of considerations that go into effectively acting as your own attorney.

You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.


You may not be able to afford a lawyer, but you might serve yourself well by spending a couple of hours with an attorney. Since your two previous attempts to solve the problem using the contempt process have not solved the problem, perhaps you are not approaching this from the proper perspective. May you should be looking at other options, rather than selecting between remedial and punitive contempt. You might be consider a motioni to modify the primary residence of the child. Good luck in any case, whatever you select.


Excellent answers by both of my colleagues. As a former judge myself, Mr. Harkess hit the nail on the head about the purposes of both punitive and remedial contempt and the standard of proofs required for both. As such, for my clients, I always seek remedial contempt. They do not want the other party in jail for 6 months, they want the other party to comply or to switch the situation as far as parenting time, make-up parenting time, and a change in decision-making. If the other party refuses to comply, then there could be punishment by the judge of up to six months of jail.

The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are interested in his legal services, feel free to call Chris at (303) 409-7635 at his law office in the Denver Tech Center. All initial consultations are free of charge.

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