Written by attorney Ryan Michael Reppucci

Civil Contempt and Sanctions in Arizona Family Courts

Rule 92, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure (ARFLP) governs contempt actions in Arizona family court matters. Rule 92 governs civil contempt proceedings in all matters related to family law cases. The use of civil contempt sanctions under rule 92 shall be limited to compelling compliance with a court order or compensating a movant for losses sustained as a result of a contemnor's failure to comply with a court order. Contempt sanctions intended to punish an offender or to vindicate the authority of the court are criminal in nature and not governed by this rule. The applicability of rule 92 and the sanctions provided shall be in addition to those procedures and sanctions set forth for a child support arrest warrant in Title 25, A.R.S.

Civil contempt may be initiated under Rule 92 in family court matters by a motion which clearly recites the essential facts alleged to be contemptuous. No civil contempt may be imposed without notice to the alleged contemnor and without providing that alleged party an opportunity to be heard. To this note, the contempt motion and order to show cause or order to appear containing the hearing date and time must be personally served upon the alleged party in contempt.

After the alleged party in contempt is properly served, the parties must attend the hearing on the contempt motion. At this time, the moving party (initiating party) will submit evidence to the court demonstrating how the other party has violated a previous court order. The responding party will have the ability to present evidence to rebut the allegations of contempt.

Thereafter, the court will make express findings as to whether the alleged contemnor had notice of the motion and order to show cause and will likewise determine whether the initiating party has established that a prior order was entered and that the alleged contemnor had notice of the prior order and nonetheless has willfully failed to comply with that order.

After the hearing wherein testimony and evidence is presented, the court will enter a written finding either granting or denying the motion for contemp.

For more information related to contempt practices in Arizona family court, contact the experienced family law attorneys at the Law Firm of Ariano & Reppucci, PLLC.

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