How to File a Motion for Contempt in California

By Ireland Wolfe
File a motion of contempt at your local courthouse in California.

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There are different legal situations where you may need to file a motion for contempt. When an individual does not follow a court order, a motion of contempt is sometimes used. In California, motions of contempt are used in both civil cases and criminal cases. Often these motions are used when an ex-spouse refuses to pay child support or if someone who owes you money is not paying you as required by a court order. You may want to consult an attorney to file a motion for contempt.

Obtain a copy of form FL-410 Order to Show Cause and Affidavit for Contempt and form FL-411 or FL-412 if necessary. These forms can be downloaded on the California Courts Self-Help Center website ( You can also ask for the forms from the clerk of the courts at your local courthouse.

Fill out form FL-410 completely in ink. Add as many details as you can about the contempt. Attach form FL-411 if the contempt is related to financial orders. Attach form FL-412 for domestic violence, custody or visitation orders.

Make at least three copies of the motions you have completed. You may need to make more copies if there are other parties involved, such as the district attorney or the local child support agency. Keep one copy for your records.

Take completed form to the court clerk's office in the courthouse in California where you originally received the judgment. The clerk will provide you with a hearing date and will file the original copies.

Pay any filing fees. The fees will vary in California depending on the reason for the order.

Serve the motion on the other party that disobeyed the court order. You cannot serve the motion yourself, and it must be delivered personally. Pay for a process server to serve the papers or have someone you know over the age of 18 deliver the motion. The person who serves the papers must complete an affidavit -- Proof of Personal Service, form FL-330. This completed form needs to be given to the clerk of the courts to file. The motion has to be delivered at least 21 days before the hearing.

Attend your hearing on the scheduled date. Answer the judge's questions about the contempt and follow any court instructions. The judge will decide on your motion.

About the Author

Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.