February 18, 2014. You finally get through the court process. The judge orders each side to do certain things, such as re-finance the house, pay a property settlement or pay for a debt. The other party does not follow through. Now what happens? The last thing you want to do is go back to court. Unfortunately, you may have to. You can try to prompt the other side to comply with paying a settlement agreement by having your attorney send a letter reminding them of the obligation. If you get no response, you may have to file a contempt of court action.
A party may be punished for contempt when the district court finds the party has willfully disobeyed the decree. The proceeding is primarily punitive in nature to punish willful refusal to follow a court order. An example of this is jail time.
In order to be successful in your motion, the moving party must show the conduct or actions were “intentional and deliberate with a bad or evil purpose, or wanton and in disregard of the rights of others, or contrary to a known duty, or unauthorized, coupled with an unconcern whether the contemnor had the right or not.” Ervin v. Iowa Dist. Ct., 495 N.W.2d 742, 744 (Iowa 1993). A failure to comply with the decree is not willful where the order was indefinite or the individual was unable to perform as ordered. The key to remember in contempt of court actions is the willful disobey requirement. This requires some level of proof for the court. Be sure to gather evidence to support this requirement and consult with your attorney for legal advice.