What Happens If You Don’t Follow a Court Order?

Failure to follow a court order may result in the court issuing a contempt of court charge and subsequent jail time and/or a fine, according to FindLaw. Civil contempt charges are most often issued to individuals involved in a civil proceeding who refuse to do what a court order specifies.

A court order is a decision of a court or a judge that usually addresses issues involved in managing a civil lawsuit, states The Free Dictionary. One type of court order is called an interlocutory order, which is designed to afford temporary relief or settle a matter related to the case. For example, a judge might enter court orders in a pending divorce case to establish temporary visitation rights and child support. Another common type of court order is a restraining order, which the court issues after an injunction is requested. These typically disallow a particular action until the court decides on the injunction.

Anyone held in civil contempt must be given notice and offered an opportunity to be heard but is not usually guaranteed a jury trial, explains FindLaw. Additionally, civil contempt does not need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Also, sanctions for civil contempt can be more indefinite than those for criminal contempt, usually lasting until the case is resolved or the party in contempt complies with the order.