Motion to Show Cause

A motion to show cause (why you should not be held in contempt) is simply a claim by one party that the other party has violated the court’s orders and should be required to a give a reason why they shouldn’t be held in contempt (and penalized) by the court. Examples could include hiding assets, failing to provide documents, denying visitation, not paying child support or alimony, or violating a restraining order.

The court has wide powers to punish someone who disobeys its order, including financial penalties and jail time. The court usually gives someone a chance to remedy the behavior (such as paying child support arrears and attorney fees) before ordering jail time. Judge Pomrenze of the Clark County Family Court in Las Vegas Nevada is infamous for jailing a lawyer who argued with her (she refused to hear his motion without an affidavit of financial condition). Contempt extends to violating a judge’s orders both directly (i.e. inside) and indirectly (i.e. outside) the court.

The Nevada Revised Statues (NRS 22.100) indicate the maximum penalty for a contempt is $500 or 25 days in  jail. However, NRS 22.110 goes on to say “when the contempt consists in the omission to perform an act which is yet in the power of the person to perform, he may be imprisoned until he performs it”. Ouch!

Motions for contempt in divorce cases are often brought against fathers for failing to pay child support or violating protection orders. In my experience, the court is very reluctant to find a mother in contempt for violating a visitation order (the most common complaint of fathers).

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12 Responses to Motion to Show Cause

  1. Darren says:

    Hi Steve,
    You seem very knowledgeable in this area. I live in the great state of Nevada, and, I know you probably get this ALOT, but I have a question for you……

    I was married to someone for about a year and a half, earlier this year we divorced. We have NO children together. We spilt up in December, she moved out of the house we shared in February. She filed for the divorce in March. I wanted the divorce too, but she was the first one to file for it. I received the paperwork and made a HUGE mistake. I read it wrong. It stated that If I contested anything in the divorce, that I needed to dispute it within twenty days, and there would be a case management meeting with the judge. I was reading that if you disputed anything in the divorce you dispute it AT the case management meeting. I showed up on the date, scheduled, for the case management meeting and was told that the final decree was already submitted and and a default decree was signed. Ok, well, I assumed that, ok, we are now divorced. But i wanted to dispute the debt that she was asking me for. In her original divorce paperwork, she was asking for 4800 dollars for debt she incurred. We both incurred ALOT of debt, thats why I showed up for the case management meeting. To discuss it. A month and a half after the default decree was signed, she filed for a motion to show cause for contempt. Because she never received the 4800 dollars. I was under the assumption that that was a “debt” that was my responsibility, and was never put under any time restraints of when it had to be payed back. the judge denied the motion, but ordered me to pay that amount within 45 days. I don’t have that kind of money. I don’t have a bank account, no assets, no savings, BAD credit, and NO one to ask for that kind of money!!! What I do have is a GREAT job, a newborn baby, and a good future. I filed a motion requesting the judge allow me to make monthly payments to her to repay this debt. He denied it, and said that i could be held in contempt. I explained EVERYTHING in the motion and begged and pleaded, enclosed my check stubs, to show that i don’t make alot, and humbly asked him. It was still denied. She has now filed another motion to hold me in contempt, because it has been over 45 days. I started sending her money, every two weeks, since i got the order to pay her. And she admits it in the motion. I send her all the extra money i have, and have promised to send more ande more as time goes by. i don’t want to be held in contempt. What do i do?!! Help me please! i beg u..

  2. stevphel says:

    I can’t give you advice – that would be practicing law without a license. I can point you in three directions:

    1) Equal Rights for Divorced Fathers offers free assistance for men in Las Vegas
    2) Many lawyers offer a free one-hour consultation – go see a couple of lawyers for a consult and see what they suggest you should do
    3) Some lawyers may even be in a position to do pro bono (free) work

  3. eldridge keith says:

    I live in va. I have a fianl decree and spouse was suppose to pay me my equity portion of the house with in 120 days. The time is up and spouse has not secured the loan to pay me. What can I do? Can I file a show cause and ask the juge to force sell the house?

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