South Dakota Family Law - You're In Contempt!

In South Dakota, a court’s contempt power includes two distinct types - civil contempt and criminal contempt.

The civil contempt power is designed “to force a party to comply with orders and decrees issued by a court in a civil action." For this reason, civil contempt is coercive in nature. In other words, civil contempt "seeks to compel the person to act in accordance with the court’s order, rather than to punish for past conduct.” The required elements for a finding of civil contempt are - (1) the existence of an order; (2) knowledge of the order; (3) ability to comply with the order; and (4) willful or contumacious disobedience of the order.

The criminal contempt power arises from conduct or acts committed in the court’s presence “that serve to subvert, embarrass, or prevent the administration of justice.” After a determination of criminal contempt, a court may impose “sanctions that serve to punish the contemnor for a past transgression against the authority or dignity of the court.”

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Estate Planning & Family Law Attorney