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What Can I Do if My Ex Spouse is Not Following the Court’s Order?

 

 

As the best child support enforcement lawyers in Gilbert AZ we often get asked, “what can I do if my ex spouse is not following the courts order?” I want to talk a little bit today about something that comes up all the time in family law cases. This usually comes up after you’ve already been to court. It could be after you’ve gotten some temporary orders or could be after your case has been resolved in it’s entirety. And the issue that arises is: you’ve got these court orders, but for whatever reason one of the parties decides they don’t think they need to follow them and so what almost always happens is, we get a call from our client who says you know, “My ex husband or my ex wife isn’t following the court order. They’re not bringing the kids back when they’re supposed to. I’m not getting the child support I’m supposed to be paid. They’re not paying the spousal maintenance. What do I do?” And it’s a very frustrating situation for the client to be in and something that you feel like at that point in the case you should be done and everyone should be playing nice, but unfortunately sometimes that does not happen.

So what do you do when that situation occurs? Well, there’s a couple of approaches to any situation when someone isn’t following a court order. The first thing that I always advise my clients do is to make every effort possible to try to resolve the situation with the other party without having to go to court. Now, why would you do that? Well, the main reason is because going back to court is always expensive. It always takes time. It always takes money and nobody likes to go back to court. In fact, it usually requires you to put on that adversarial persona again and you know everyone’s putting their fists up and fighting. So what I usually advise my client is that we reach out to the other party, or in some cases their representative/their attorney, and try to work things out. Candidly that doesn’t always work, so what it often requires is that we file something with the court called the motion to enforce or a motion for contempt. And in filing a motion to enforce or contempt, you’re asking the court to enforce a court order, make them follow the orders that have already been entered in the case and to hold them in contempt.

Contempt is a situation where somebody knows about a court order and they’re not following it, even if they have the ability to do so. So, for example, contempt would not be a situation where somebody’s withholding the kids, because maybe they got stopped at an airport or missed a flight or something like that. It’s not intentional; but, if they’re purposely not paying child support, purposely withholding the kids, being belligerent, that would be a good situation where you would file a motion for contempt and enforcement with the court. Typically, what happens is the court’s going to hold a hearing to see if we can just resolve it on our own. If not, the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing where both parties can put on evidence and the court decides whether or not the person has willfully violated the court order. What happens if a court finds someone has willfully violated a court order? Well, there’s a number of sanctions that the court can enter. One of the typical sanctions is that the other party can be ordered to pay attorney fees. In the case of child support, the court may order a large payment to make up for past due child support. In the case of withholding children, the court might order some make up time.

Obviously, these are situations that you don’t want to find yourself in. You certainly don’t want to be the person who’s violating the court order, because usually the courts aren’t very happy with you and you’re going to find yourself probably paying attorney fees and having other potential sanctions. But, that’s the typical process for dealing with a situation where someone is not following the court order. So as in any situation, if you find yourself dealing with someone who’s not following an order issued by a family court, my advice is: give us a call here at the law offices of Kevin Jensen. We’ve dealt with hundreds and hundreds of cases involving enforcement of court orders. We would love to schedule a time for you to come down, sit down with us, talk about your situation, so that we can give you the best advice possible in how to address this sometimes very serious situation. Thank you.

For more videos answering common child support enforcement questions click here.

Jensen Family Law in Gilbert
4365 E Pecos Rd # 138,
Gilbert, AZ 85295
(480) 900-2302




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