A motion is a request to a court to issue some type of court order. The party who makes the motion is the called the movant. The other party is called the respondent. Various types of motions are discussed below.
A contempt motion may be filed when the movant believes that the respondent has failed to comply with a court order.
To prevail on a contempt motion, the movant must establish two facts.
•A court order commanded the respondent to do, or not do, some act.
•The respondent has failed to comply with the court order.
The movant need not establish that the respondent intentionally or willfully failed to comply with the court order. Rather, the movant need only establish that the respondent failed to comply with the court order.
The respondent can raise various defenses against a contempt motion. For example, in an appropriate situation, one or more of the following defenses may be raised.
•The court does not have authority to hear the motion.
•The court does not have the authority to issue an order against the respondent.
•When properly interpreted, the court order does not command the respondent to do, or not do, the act.
•The respondent is not required to do the act at this time.
•The court order is ambiguous.
•It would be impossible for the respondent to comply with the court order.
•The movant has waived the right to file the contempt motion.
•The movant has waited too long to file the contempt motion.
If a court finds the respondent in contempt of court, the court may impose various punishments. These punishments include the following.
•The court may order the respondent to comply with the court's prior order.
•The court may order the respondent to pay the movant's attorney fees and litigation expenses.
•The court may order the respondent to pay a fine.
•The court may imprison the respondent.
In most cases, the court will order the respondent to comply with the court's prior order and to pay the movant's attorney fees. Generally, a respondent will not be ordered to pay a fine and will not be imprisoned. However, if the respondent's actions are extremely inappropriate, these punishments can be imposed.
If a party has been found in contempt, the court will probably have a negative view of that party regarding any future litigation. This consideration may be very important. In many cases, the parties may be involved with the court system for many years.
A motion to interpret may be filed when the movant believes that the court has issued an ambiguous court order. An ambiguous court order is an order that can reasonably be interpreted in two or more ways.
If a court grants a motion to interpret, the court also issues an order announcing how the court order in question should be interpreted.
If a court has issued a final judgment, a movant may file a motion asking the court to grant the movant relief from the judgment. Such a motion must be based on one of the following reasons.
•Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
•Newly discovered evidence which could not have been discovered earlier
•Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct by the respondent
•The judgment has been satisfied, released, discharged, or otherwise vacated
•Any other reason justifying relief
A motion for relief from judgment must be filed within a reasonable time after the final judgment. A motion based on one of the first three reasons mentioned above must be filed within one year after the final judgment.
After a final trial, a movant may file a motion for a new trial. A motion for a new trial may be granted for various reasons. These reasons include the following.
•The movant was prevented from having a fair trial.
•An accident or surprise occurred which could not be reasonably guarded against.
•The judgment of the court is not sustained by the weight of the evidence.
•The judgment of the court is contrary to law.
•Newly discovered evidence exists that could not have reasonably been discovered and produced at trial.
•An error of law occurred at the trial and was brought to the attention of the trial court.
•Any other good cause for a new trial is shown.
A motion for a new trial must be filed and served no later than fourteen days after the final judgment.
A final judgment may order a party to transfer real property, transfer personal property, deliver deeds or other documents, or perform other specific acts. If a party fails to perform an act ordered by the court, the movant may file a motion requesting a judgment regarding the act.
If the motion is granted, the court will issue an order to ensure the act is performed. Specifically, the court may issue an order commanding a third party to perform the act on behalf of the non-complying party. In the alternative, the court may issue an order performing the act on behalf of the non-complying party.
If one party owes money to another party pursuant to a prior court order, the party owed the money (the creditor party) can file a motion requesting the court to issue a money judgment against the party who owes the money (the debtor party).
If the court issues a money judgment, the creditor party can use the money judgment to obtain an interest in the debtor party's real estate or personal property. The debtor party's personal property includes checking accounts, savings accounts, and other bank accounts.
If the debtor party refuses to pay the debt after the money judgment is issued, the creditor party can take various actions to collect the debt. For example, the creditor party can bring a foreclosure action against the debtor party's real estate or the creditor party can seize the debtor party's bank accounts.
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