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enforcement of orders and decrees

When a divorce decree or order in a paternity case is finalized by the court, it often contains specific orders to one or both of the parties.  Examples of these orders are:

  • Payment of child support or spousal maintenance

  • Requiring the parties to sign documents to sell real property within a certain period of time

  • Requiring the delivery of furniture, photographs, memorabilia or other personal property

  • Ordering the parties to share parenting time

  • Payment of certain debts

  • Transfer of an asset, such as a bank account, to the other party

  • Division of retirement accounts


Too often, one of the parties will not obey the terms of all or a part of the Decree of Dissolution or Order of the court, which can cause numerous problems.  It is frustrating when the other party won’t follow the agreement that you worked so hard to negotiate.  In some cases, the other party refuses to follow the Court Order that the judge entered because they are still mad about the outcome of the trial.

Parents are not allowed to stop paying support because the other parent has not allowed them to visit with the child.  Similarly, a parent cannot withhold parenting time and access rights because the other parent is in arrears on child support.

The penalties to the offending party for these transgressions can be severe depending on the harm to the other party, but oftentimes the party who is being harmed needs to file a motion for enforcement in order to call the court’s attention to the situation.   The party who is in contempt of the court order must be aware that the order exists. 


An enforcement proceeding should be brought with the help of an experienced attorney.  Each case is slightly different and no two cases will have identical penalties, however, one of the common penalties requires the offending party to pay the legal fees of the other.  The judge can also order sanctions against the offending party.  The court can take extreme measures to force compliance in certain circumstances.  It is important for those who are facing challenges in getting their former spouse or partner to obey family law court orders to contact an attorney for assistance. 


It is never a good idea to try to resolve these issues directly with your former spouse or partner because any agreement you make directly with them cannot be enforced by the courts.  An experienced attorney will file a Motion to Enforce and/or request an Order to Show Cause asking the judge to hold the other party in contempt.  Unfortunately, I help clients with this situation all too frequently.  If you need help with an enforcement issue, please call my office to schedule an appointment.   

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