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In this article, A DIVORCE LAWYER DISCUSSES DIVORCES AND CIVIL SHOW CAUSES.  Anthony Montagna and his partners have handled hundreds of divorce cases over the years.  In particular, Anthony Montagna has been assisting military men and women, union workers, students, and seniors for over 22 years.

It is important to understand the difference between civil and criminal show causes. In 1911 in the Gompers v. Bucks Stove and Range Company, the U. S. Supreme Court explained, “Contempts are neither wholly civil nor altogether criminal. And “it may not always be easy to classify a particular act as belonging to either one of these two classes. It may partake of the characteristics of both.” But in either event, and whether the proceedings be civil or criminal, there must be an allegation that in contempt of court the defendant has disobeyed the order, and a prayer that he be attached and punished therefor. It is not the fact of punishment but rather its character and purpose that often serve to distinguish between the two classes of cases. If it is for civil contempt the punishment is remedial, and for the benefit of the complainant. But if it is for criminal contempt the sentence is punitive, to vindicate the authority of the court. It is true that punishment by imprisonment may be remedial, as well as punitive, and many civil contempt proceedings have resulted not only in the imposition of a fine, payable to the complainant, but also in committing the defendant to prison. But imprisonment for civil contempt is ordered where the defendant has refused to do an affirmative act required by the provisions of an order which, either in form or substance, was mandatory in its character. Imprisonment in such cases is not inflicted as a punishment, but is intended to be remedial by coercing the defendant to do what he had refused to do. The decree in such cases is that the defendant stand committed unless and until he performs the affirmative act required by the court’s order.”

In divorces, most contempt proceedings originate with a rule to show cause.  This is usually the beginning of the civil show cause.  The burden is on the moving party to show that the respondent has not complied with a court order.  Furthermore, if someone is guilty of the civil contempt he or she must be able to purge themselves from the civil contempt.