RULE 12.615. CIVIL CONTEMPT IN SUPPORT MATTERS

(a)    Applicability. This rule governs civil contempt proceedings in support matters related to family law cases. The use of civil contempt sanctions under this rule shall be limited to those used to compel compliance with a court order or to compensate a movant for losses sustained as a result of a contemnor’s willful failure to comply with a court order. Contempt sanctions intended to punish an offender or to vindicate the authority of the court are criminal in nature and are governed by Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.830 and 3.840.

(b)    Motion and Notice. Civil contempt may be initiated by motion. The motion must recite the essential facts constituting the acts alleged to be contemptuous. No civil contempt may be imposed without notice to the alleged contemnor and without providing the alleged contemnor with an opportunity to be heard. The civil contempt motion and notice of hearing may be served in accordance with Florida Rule of General Practice and Judicial Administration 2.516 provided notice is reasonably calculated to apprise the alleged contemnor of the pendency of the proceedings. The notice must specify the time and place of the hearing and must contain the following language: “FAILURE TO APPEAR AT THE HEARING MAY RESULT IN THE COURT ISSUING A WRIT OF BODILY ATTACHMENT FOR YOUR ARREST. IF YOU ARE ARRESTED, YOU MAY BE HELD IN JAIL UP TO 48 HOURS BEFORE A HEARING IS HELD.” This notice must also state whether electronic recording or a court reporter is provided by the court or whether a court reporter, if desired, must be provided by the party.

(c)    Hearing. In any civil contempt hearing, after the court makes an express finding that the alleged contemnor had notice of the motion and hearing:

(1)    the court shall determine whether the movant has established that a prior order directing payment of support was entered and that the alleged contemnor has failed to pay all or part of the support set forth in the prior order; and

(2)    if the court finds the movant has established all of the requirements in subdivision (c)(1) of this rule, the court shall,

(A)    if the alleged contemnor is present, determine whether the alleged contemnor had the present ability to pay support and willfully failed to pay such support.

(B)    if the alleged contemnor fails to appear, set a reasonable purge amount based on the individual circumstances of the parties. The court may issue a writ of bodily attachment and direct that, upon execution of the writ of bodily attachment, the alleged contemnor be brought before the court within 48 hours for a hearing on whether the alleged contemnor has the present ability to pay support and, if so, whether the failure to pay such support is willful.

(d)    Order and Sanctions. After hearing the testimony and evidence presented, the court shall enter a written order granting or denying the motion for contempt.

(1)    An order finding the alleged contemnor to be in contempt shall contain a finding that a prior order of support was entered, that the alleged contemnor has failed to pay part or all of the support ordered, that the alleged contemnor had the present ability to pay support, and that the alleged contemnor willfully failed to comply with the prior court order. The order shall contain a recital of the facts on which these findings are based.

(2)    If the court grants the motion for contempt, the court may impose appropriate sanctions to obtain compliance with the order including incarceration, attorneys’ fees, suit money and costs, compensatory or coercive fines, and any other coercive sanction or relief permitted by law provided the order includes a purge provision as set forth in subdivision (e) of this rule.

(e)    Purge. If the court orders incarceration, a coercive fine, or any other coercive sanction for failure to comply with a prior support order, the court shall set conditions for purge of the contempt, based on the contemnor’s present ability to comply. The court shall include in its order a separate affirmative finding that the contemnor has the present ability to comply with the purge and the factual basis for that finding. The court may grant the contemnor a reasonable time to comply with the purge conditions. If the court orders incarceration but defers incarceration for more than 48 hours to allow the contemnor a reasonable time to comply with the purge conditions, and the contemnor fails to comply within the time provided, the movant shall file an affidavit of noncompliance with the court. If payment is being made through the Central Governmental Depository, a certificate from the depository shall be attached to the affidavit. The court then may issue a writ of bodily attachment. Upon incarceration, the contemnor must be brought before the court within 48 hours for a determination of whether the contemnor continues to have the present ability to pay the purge.

(f)     Review after Incarceration. Notwithstanding the provisions of this rule, at any time after a contemnor is incarcerated, the court on its own motion or motion of any party may review the contemnor’s present ability to comply with the purge condition and the duration of incarceration and modify any prior orders.

(g)    Other Relief. Where there is a failure to pay support or to pay support on a timely basis but the failure is not willful, nothing in this rule shall be construed as precluding the court from granting such relief as may be appropriate under the circumstances.