Experienced Family Law Advocacy

Seattle Divorce – Contempt

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2019 | Firm News |

Attorney Tyler L. Merrill

In Washington State, under RCW 26.09.160, failure to comply with a decree or temporary injunction is contemptible. A common example in Family Law is failure to follow a Parenting Plan. This includes failure to follow a temporary Parenting Plan or a final Parenting Plan.

Under RCW 26.09.160, if, based on all the facts and circumstances, the court finds after hearing that the parent, in bad faith, has not complied with the order establishing residential provisions for the child, the court shall find the parent in contempt of court. Upon a finding of contempt, the court shall order:

(i) The noncomplying parent to provide the moving party additional time with the child. The additional time shall be equal to the time missed with the child, due to the parent’s noncompliance;

(ii) The parent to pay, to the moving party, all court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred as a result of the noncompliance, and any reasonable expenses incurred in locating or returning a child; and

(iii) The parent to pay, to the moving party, a civil penalty, not less than the sum of one hundred dollars.

The court may also order the parent to be imprisoned in the county jail, if the parent is presently able to comply with the provisions of the court-ordered parenting plan and is presently unwilling to comply. The parent may be imprisoned until he or she agrees to comply with the order, but in no event for more than one hundred eighty days.

Remember contempt is a serious remedy and generally Courts do not like finding a parent in contempt unless the violation is serious. Other avenues can be pursed prior to filing a contempt action to fix the problem.