Post-Divorce Enforcement and Contempt of Court
Divorce Orders and Paternity Orders are Judgments and are therefore legal binding on the parties, whether they relate to child support, maintenance (alimony), or parenting time (visitation), allocated parental responsibilities (custody)or any other matter set forth in the divorce decree. Court Orders must be obeyed by each party and neither party has the option as to whether or not to obey a Court Order.
If a divorced spouse willfully disobeys a Court Order he or she will most likely suffer legal consequences, and could even find himself or herself held in contempt of Court. For a party to be found in contempt, however, that party must have intentionally disobeyed a Court Order and without just reason. If a party disobeys a Court Order because he or she was not aware of the Order or accidentally violated the conditions of the Order, or had a good, honorable reason for violating the Order, then that party would probably not be found in contempt of Court.
The consequences for a contempt of Court finding depend on the nature of the violation. In most cases the Court will give the person violating the Order an opportunity to make up for the violation. For instance, if the violation is related to failure to pay maintenance (formerly known as alimony), the offending party may be allowed to pay the amount that is in arrears without additional consequences (however, even if the back support is paid, the Court may still order the violating party to pay the other party’s attorney fees). If the offending party has a history of violating Court Orders, the Court may take a tougher approach. For parties who consistently violate Court Orders, the Court may order fines or jail time. In most cases, however, the threat of serious consequences is enough to compel compliance.
If your former spouse has violated the terms of your divorce order by refusing to give up or transfer marital property to you, failed to pay child support or spousal support, or is not exercising his or her parenting time obligations, you can file a Petition for Rule to Show Cause, which will ask the Court to hold that party to be held in contempt. If you need to modify your divorce decree or you want your former spouse to meet their obligations and responsibilities pursuant to the divorce decree, Susan can help you make sure that the law is followed and will advocate for your interests in post divorce modification and enforcement proceedings.
If the terms of child custody or allocated parental responsibilities or parenting time or visitation Orders are repeatedly violated, the Court may determine that a modification to the existing arrangement is necessary. Susan has dealt with many post divorce enforcement matters and will review the Order being violated with you, discuss how it is being violated and what can be done to enforce the terms of the Order.