Yes, you can (in theory) be sent to jail in your divorce case

by | Jun 30, 2021 | Divorce

A Littleton divorce takes place in civil court, not criminal. Nobody is on trial for an alleged crime. Instead, the purpose is to dissolve the parties’ marriage as reasonably as possible.

Nevertheless, in rare cases, someone going through a divorce in Colorado ends up in jail. This can happen if the judge finds that one of the spouses acted in contempt of a court order. Contempt of court is one of the few non-criminal violations that can send you to jail.

For example, a judge can order an ex-spouse to jail for failing to comply with a child support or child custody order. Say the non-custodial spouse refuses to pay child support. The custodial spouse has the right to go to court to petition the judge to find their ex in contempt of court. In Colorado, the law permits judges to fine someone they find in contempt or even put them in jail for up to six months.

Jailed for nine months over a gag order

In a recent example, as of May, an Arapahoe County woman had been in jail for nine months after her divorce judge found her in contempt on four counts of violating a gag order. Previously, the judge had ordered the woman not to discuss an order terminating her parental rights with other people, but she allegedly did.

The judge later resigned over allegations of misconduct unrelated to the divorce case. The jailed woman is seeking to be released based on claims that her sentence violates her constitutional rights.

Jail time is not likely

It is highly unlikely that you will end up in jail during your divorce or afterward, as long as you comply with the judge’s orders. But that does not mean you have to accept the terms of a custody plan or division of property that you believe is unfair or in error. You can go back to court to seek amendments to existing orders. Better still is to work with an experienced divorce attorney to reduce the risk of needing to go back to fix problems in your divorce.