What is an Order to Show Cause?


When going through a divorce there will be many documents filed by your attorney, the opposing party, as well as the court. Knowing the purpose and effect of each document is critical to properly prepare for the next step in your divorce. One document that may be filed by the court is an Order to Show Cause. If an Order to Show Cause has been filed by the court in your case, discuss this filing with your Orlando Divorce Attorney immediately.

A court will file an Order to Show Cause in response to a party’s Motion for Enforcement or Contempt. A Motion for Enforcement or Contempt is filed by a party when the opposing party is failing to abide by an already existing court order. If the offending party has failed to adhere to court ordered child support payments, alimony payments, equitable distribution, or a parenting plan order; the party filing this motion is asking the court to enforce the order or find the offending party in contempt of court. If the motion is properly filed, and is valid on its face with proper foundation describing the inconsistent actions of the offending party, the court will file an Order to Show Cause.

An Order to Show Cause, first provides notice to the offending party of the alleged wrong doing. After filing, an Order to Show Cause hearing will be scheduled as required by law. The Order to Show Cause is required to be set for a hearing, because and individual may not be punished for indirect contempt without an opportunity to be heard before a court. At the hearing, the offending party is given the opportunity to provide evidence or testimony as to why they should not be held in contempt and provide reasons for the cause behind their failure to abide by the court order. Generally, the goal of an Order to Show Cause is to encourage the offending party to comply with the existing court order, this is the enforcement portion of the original motion. However, if the court finds that the actions were blatant and willful, the court may seek to punish the offending party by finding them in contempt of court. If found to be in contempt, at this Order to Show Cause hearing, the court may place penalties on the offending party in the form of monetary fines, jail time, or any other equitable relief the judge determines necessary.

Whether, an Order to Show Cause is filed against you, or in your case, it is important to understand the purpose and process that such an order requires. Therefore, discuss the details of the order with your Orlando Divorce Attorney and develop the next steps in your case to proceed with the response to this order.

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