Enforcing Court Orders

Many times, after a divorce is finalized, one person does not follow the Orders contained in the Divorce Decree. Some of the most common violations are: (1) not following the parent-time scheduled (e.g., keeping children too after one’s parent-time has ended), and (2) not paying child support or some other required reimbursement (e.g., daycare costs, medical insurance premiums). These violations create tension in an already difficult situation, and can have serious repercussions on kids and on pocketbooks.

So, how do you deal with someone who’s violating a Decree? In other words, how do you enforce your Decree when your ex has disregarded it?

One way to address the problem is to file a Motion for an Order to Show Cause – i.e., Motion for Contempt. With this Motion, you ask the Court to hold your ex in contempt for violating the Court’s Order(s). As punishment for contempt, you may ask the Court to punishment in to form of making your ex: (1) pay your attorney’s fees, (2) grant you make-up parent-time, (3) take parenting classes, (4) serve time in jail.

While these are some of the possible punishments, filing a Motion for Contempt is usually about simply wanting the person to follow your Decree. This is why the Court will often tell the person in contempt he or she can purge contempt if they obey the Order from then on.

One of the benefits of bringing contempt against someone who has failed to pay child support or other financial obligations, is the Court will grant a judgment for the amount owed. You can take that judgment and garnish wages to collect the amounts due.

Keep in mind that Motions for Contempt, while useful both for recovery amounts owed and for changing behavior, must be supported by clear and convincing evidence. Please, ensure you have the proper evidence before requesting contempt.

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