COMPLAINT FOR CONTEMPT

  If one party fails to comply with the terms of a Court Order or Judgment, then the other party may file a Complaint for Contempt.  The usual complaint is a Complaint for Civil Contempt.  Different rules apply to a Complaint for Criminal Contempt and it is rarely used. 

Complaints for Civil Contempt are most often filed with respect to violations of orders and judgments relating to payment of child or spousal support, but they can be brought for violations of any court orders or judgments, including custody and visitation.

If the Judge finds that a party is in civil contempt for failure to obey any order or judgment of the court relative to support of a spouse or child, the court can order an appropriate remedy including a jail sentence, payment of the full amount due, regular payment of current support and any additional amount towards the arrears, community service, job placement efforts and the like. 

All forms that are linked below can be filled out by the applicant on-line.  However, the applicant still needs to print out the form, sign it and then submit it to the Plymouth Probate and Family Court, either by mail or in person.

A helpful guide for parents living apart has been prepared by The Massachusetts Association of Family and Conciliation Courts  with the support of the Honorable Sean M. Dunphy, Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court. (Click here)

Here you will find:

What to file

Where to File

What happens after you file

What to file:

No filing fee, however there is a fee of $5.00 for a summons.  Payable to “Plymouth Probate Court”.  Bank check or money order is required. No personal checks are accepted.)
Complaint for Civil Contempt (click for form)
(Place an x in the civil box)

Where to file:

For Domestic Relations Matters
By mail to: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
ATTN:  Domestic Relations Department
52 Obery Street, Suite 1130
Plymouth, MA 02360
In person at: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
52 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360

or

Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
215 Main Street, Suite 220
Brockton, MA 02301
For Paternity matters
By mail to: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
ATTN:  Paternity Department
215 Main Street, Suite 220
Brockton, MA 02301
In person at: Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
215 Main Street, Suite 220
Brockton, MA 02301

or

Plymouth County Probate and Family Court
52 Obery Street
Plymouth, MA 02360

What to expect after you file:

After you file the Complaint for Civil Contempt with the Court, it must be processed.  Processing your Complaint means that the complaint must be reviewed and then docketed into the official court docket.

The Court then will issue a Contempt Summons to you.  The Summons will contain a “return date” on which the defendant and applicant must appear in court for a hearing on the merits of the Complaint for Civil Contempt.  Once you receive the summons, you MUST take it or mail it with a copy of the Complaint to the Sheriff’s Department of the County in which the Defendant lives.  A Constable who is authorized to serve civil process in a designated city or town may also be utilized.  The Sheriff or Constable will “make service.”  This means that the Sheriff or Constable will bring a copy of the Complaint for Civil Contempt, and the Contempt Summons to the Defendant. Service must be made upon the Defendant at least seven (7) days before the return date.  The Sheriff’s Department or Constable will then send you the original Contempt Summons with the back of this Summons filled out stating that the service was made or that the Sheriff or Constable was unable to make service.  This is called a “return of service.”  This original Contempt Summons will need to be filed with the Court before the return date.  This will prove to the Court that service has been made.

After you file the original Contempt Summons with the Court, including the “return of service” showing that service was timely made upon the Defendant, you should appear at the court location designated on the summons on the return date at the specified time.  A  Judge will then conduct a hearing on the merits of the Contempt Complaint and render a decision, usually in the form of an order or judgment.

If the Sheriff or Constable is unable to make timely service upon the Defendant, you should return the Contempt Summons to the Court and request that a Summons issue with a new return date.

If the Sheriff or Constable was able to make service of the original Summons and the Defendant does not appear at the designated court location on the return date, a capias will issue for the apprehension of the Defendant forthwith.  You should deliver the capias  to the Sheriff  or Constable for his action in apprehending the Defendant and bringing the Defendant to court.  The Sheriff or Constable will inform you of progress with respect to this matter.

NOTE: If you are receiving child support enforcement services from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, you should contact the Department of Revenue for assistance in prosecuting your contempt action.  If you are not receiving services from the Department of Revenue but wish to utilize its resources, then you may apply to the Department of Revenue in order to receive its services and assistance.  The Department of Revenue has access to extensive resources to enforce child support orders, including when the defendant lives out of state.