Contempt of Court & Enforcing Court Orders
Long Island Family Law Attorneys Resolving Complex Disputes
A court order for your ex-spouse to only visit your children at a certain time or to pay you a certain amount of alimony after your divorce finalizes, it is not a suggestion but a legally binding contract backed the United States judicial system. The orders have to be taken seriously and they have to be followed to the letter. Any willful deviation from the contract or agreement constitutes contempt.
Someone is in contempt of a court order if they:
- Know about the court order.
- Should be able to comply with the court order but does not comply.
- Has no valid reason for lack of compliance.
While being held in contempt is certainly a legal situation for your ex-spouse – they could face criminal charges and penalties like jail time and fines – it may be a boon for you when it comes time to enforce the court orders. For more information about the enforcement of court orders or contempt, contact Hedayati Law Group P.C. and our team of professional family lawyers in Long Island today.
How Your Ex’s Contempt Affects You
Before we look into enforcing court orders in more detail, it is important to first understand the consequences of contempt and how it could affect you. When someone is found to be in contempt of the court by willfully violating a court order, they must make it up through compensatory actions. If it is the first time your ex-spouse has ignored the court order, they may only be required to make up what they intentionally disrupted; for example: If they did not pay one alimony payment, they would probably only have to pay you what is missing.
For people who have been ignoring court orders for a considerable amount of time, or whose actions caused significant damage to your finances or family life, the court can use more efficient means. For example: If they did not pay several alimony payments and the lack of finances caused you to miss credit card payments and build interest, the court could order them to pay the missing spousal support, pay the interest on your credit cards, and pay a varying amount in punitive damages. This reason and many more act as an important reminder for you to always follow court orders as well.
Enforcement Through Filing for Contempt
The court will want to see valid reasons as to why you need your court orders enforced. Showing that your ex-spouse is in contempt of the orders through one action or another is a strong reason to need enforcement.
The steps you should take to file contempt, and therefore for enforcement, are:
- 1. Review: The language of the court’s original order could be open to interpretation, or it could be clear that your ex-spouse was in contempt. Review the agreement again to get a good idea of where the groundwork of your filing lies.
- 2. Retain: Once you are certain you should have a case, it is time to start building it with a family law attorney’s help. By working with a professional, you take out the guesswork and strengthen your claims, which will surely be challenged by your ex-spouse at some point.
- 3. Resolve: No one wants to drag out a family law dispute. Consider resolutions upfront that your ex can use to set things right without needing to go to court. This metaphorical olive branch of peace can keep this process fast and painless.
- 4. File: If your gesture of goodwill is not accepted, it is time to file a motion with your local court clerk. Let your attorney handle this step to make certain that all paperwork is filled out and copied accordingly.
- 5. Serve: Court orders have to actually be handed to the other parties involved; emailing them or giving your ex-spouse a call is not proof enough that the motion exists. Many divorce attorneys can perform this service themselves or know a reliable business that can.
- 6. Attend: Last but certainly not least, it is time to attend your hearing and make your case. Once again, teaming up with a family law attorney is a smart way to complete this process with confidence. Based on the arguments given, the presiding judge will have to decide if contempt has been committed or not.
Initial Consultations are Free at Our Firm
Enforcing a court order is not a simple process, and you might not even know if it is the right solution for the problems you are facing. If you would like to get a better idea of what should be done, contact us and get a free consultation from our Long Island family law attorneys. We would be happy to put our 150+ years of combined legal experience to good use for you.