This post will provide information on anyone considering a Minnesota Motions for Contempt of Court. The post will not explain all aspects of contempt of court charges or actions, but I aim to provide some general guidelines for anyone considering a contempt of court motion in Minnesota.
Foremost, you should have a court order which you are trying to enforce. Under the new rules of Family Court Procedure in Minnesota, there are certain requirements that must be included in a contempt motion or order for rule to show cause.
Minnesota Ex Parte Relief and Orders to Show Cause
An order to show cause may be obtained via an “ex parte” proceeding pursuant to Minnesota Rule of Family Court, Rule 3. So, what the heck is an ex parte proceeding?
Basically, an ex parte proceeding is one where a family law litigant asks the court to issue an order without a hearing and before notice has been given to the other side.
An ex parte order is an extreme remedy that should not be used lightly. Ex parte orders are only granted based on a showing of serious need. If you don’t know what this means, you should speak with a lawyer first. Examples of serious need include: domestic violence, extreme urgency necesitating an injunction of some kind, kidnapping, abuse, etc. It does not mean that you can get an ex parte order because the other side did make a car payment last month.
Furthermore, just because an ex parte order is filed, doesn’t mean that notice is required – it is. The other side still gets notice of what you are trying to do no matter what. If an ex parte order is issued, you or your lawyer must personally serve the other side with notice of the order and a notice which gives the other side an opportunity to be heard.
If an ex parte order is issued for contempt of court, a hearing will still be scheduled. In the interim time between the issuance of the order and the hearing date, you will still have protection – provided that the court has indeed issued an ex parte order.
Basically, as I stated above, you must to show “need”. The definition of need is open to interpretation and is left to the discretion of a judge. What does that mean? It means that the judge will make the determination of whether your motion for ex parte relief has merit.
If the motion for ex parte relief is based on finances, then information limited financial information will need to be produced by the moving party.
What are the standards for Minnesota Contempt of Court?
Minnesota Statute 588.01 provides the basis for contempt of court actions in Minnesota. Under the statute, there are two different kind of contempt: direct and constructive.
Direct contempt of court is defined as “those occuring in the immediate view and presence of the court, and [which] arise from one or more of the following acts:
(1) disorderly, contemptuous, or insolent behavior toward the judge while holding court, tending to interrupt the due course of a trial or other judicial proceedings;
(2) a breach of the peace, boisterous conduct, or violent disturbance, tending to interrupt the business of the court.
Second, constructive contempt of court is defined by Minnesota law as “those not committed in the immediate presence of the court, and of which it has no personal knowledge.”
There are different examples of “contstructive contempt of court” in Minnesota. However, in my practice, I have found that the most common ground on which I bring a contempt of court motion for clients is:
. . . disobedience of any lawful judgment, order, or process of the court;
Again, the disobedience of any lawful judgment and order of the court is common in my family law practice. Why? Because people often do not obey the financial dictates of divorce judgment and/or decree.
There are many reasons why someone would not obey a family law judgment or order. Sometimes it is because the person lost a job. Sometimes it is because the person simply doesn’t want to make the car payments anymore. Sometimes, the person who is not obeying the order just doesn’t like the other side and chooses not to pay pursuant to the order. If this is the case, I usually get the call from the other side saying that “so-and-so is not paying, what can we do?” My response? File a order for rule to show cause and/or contempt of court motion.
I hope that provide readers with some help to understand the contempt of court and/or ex parte relief process. The two often go hand-in-hand, but they don’t have to. One or the other can be filed based on the facts of your particular family law case.
If you are in need a lawyer to file an ex parte motion, a contempt of court motion, or a motion to show cause, please give the firm a call.
-This post was written by Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm LLC – an Apple Valley MN attorney.