Many times a party may have difficulty holding up their end of a bargain or complying with court orders made by a Judge. There is a remedy (enforcement), but it requires you to go back to Court. If the other side is not doing what he or she is supposed to, such as defying custody orders (parenting time enforcement), not paying spousal maintenance (modification and enforcement) (alimony) or not paying child support (child support enforcement), you can file a Petition for Contempt and bring the non-complying party before the Judge.
Methods for Enforcing Court Orders
The filing of a Contempt Petition with the Court is considered a new action and it requires the same formalities as the original underlying action such as service of the Petition and Order to Appear (a document that states when the hearing is) and appearances before the Judge.
Sometimes, the mere filing and service of the Contempt Petition will get the attention of the non-complying party. Many times, he/she will become current on their payments before they have to see the Judge and attempt to explain why he/she didn't do what he/she was supposed to do under the court order. If the other party is in contempt of a custody order, they may offer make up time to avoid litigation. If the contempt is egregious enough, it can sometimes warrant a change of custody.
In addition to seeking enforcement of the order, you can also seek penalties such as your costs and attorneys' fees expended to bring the contempt case. If the contempt is support related, you can seek a judgment and wage garnishment, you can request a purge amount (lump sum) and you can request jail time if the other party is continuously in contempt. There are also methods to seek deposits of up to 6 months of support if the other party is self-employed and not subject to a wage garnishment. If a judgment for past support is obtained, a qualified attorney can also help with bank account garnishments, liens on homes and other assets, etc.
While frustrating, sometimes requesting assistance from the Court for enforcement of the order may be necessary if you are unable to resolve the issue outside of the courtroom directly with the other party. This may be difficult as sometimes the enforcement that is being sought is typically the payment of something, like spousal maintenance and/or child support that you are in need of. Going back to Court can cost you attorneys' fees to get what is already owed to you. Fortunately, you can ask the Court for the attorneys' fees and costs that you incur to enforce payment of the support owing. It is up to the Judge as to how much of your attorneys' fees and costs you may recover.
If you have an enforcement case, please contact our experienced Attorneys at LASITER & JACKSON at (602) 234-5900 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.