Written by attorney April Watkins Nemer

Failure to comply with court order in a divorce

In some divorces, it may be difficult to get your ex-spouse to comply with the court’s orders. Failure to comply with court orders can be a challenge, and if possible try to work out small differences yourself because that is the cheapest and fastest way to arrive at a resolution. Additionally, always remember to put agreements in writing.

What to do if your ex-spouse refuses to comply with a court order

However, settling it between you and your ex-spouse may not always be possible. If your ex-spouse fails to comply with court orders, this will need to be brought to the attention of a family law attorney.

For example, if your ex-spouse does not pay child support, refuses to give visitation as ordered, or violates an order, there are a number of steps we can take to try force compliance.

Option #1: Filing for contempt

One possible step would be to ask the court to find your ex-spouse in contempt. Contempt findings can ultimately lead to jail time if the judge believes that your ex-spouse is intentionally refusing to comply with a lawful court order.

Option #2: Income assignment order

Another possibility would be an income assignment order. If your spouse is at least a month behind in child support and is employed, you may be able to get an order that will take the child support directly out of your ex-spouse’s pay and require the employer to pay it to the court clerk. (It will show up as a deduction on the employee’s paystub). The clerk will then pay this money over to you.

Catching up on delinquent support gets more and more difficult the further behind the payor gets. Therefore, if you are not receiving child support that you should, you ought to take steps to enforce the support before it gets too far behind.

Additional resources provided by the author

For more information: The Complete Guide to Divorce Practice: Forms and Procedures for the Lawyer, 25th Anniversary, Fourth Edition, 2012, by Larry Rice and Nick Rice, published by the American Bar Association General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. Copyright © 2012 by the American Bar Association.

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