An Order is Just a Piece of Paper

By: Brenda L. Storey, Esq.

It can be so frustrating to get through an entire legal proceeding, finally have orders in place, and then the other side does not comply.    Clients, like the court and the lawyers, expect there to be full compliance.   Yet, such is not always the case.   In those circumstances, the court has no knowledge of the noncompliance unless brought to its attention.  There is no case manager assigned, overseeing whether there have been violations.  Rather, if a party wishes for the court’s enforcement assistance, the proper filing must be made to the court.

The proper filing depends upon the underlying obligation that has not been met.   For example, if the noncompliance is as to parenting time, there is a specific statute that allows for all kinds of relief, ranging from make up parenting time,  to fees and costs, to classes being ordered, and much more.  If the violation is as to nonpayment of support, a Verified Entry of Support Judgment can be filed and garnishment sought pretty quickly.  If the nonpayment is for other financial obligations different from spousal or child support, a Motion for Judgment can be filed, and then collection efforts thereafter.  If the non-compliance involves actions or inactions, contempt can be sought.  Contempt sanctions can include punishment, punishment until compliance, and/or a fees and costs award.

The best advice I can give is to expect compliance from the get go.   Just like raising a two year old, a new former spouse needs consistent expectations.   If you give them an inch they might take a mile.  So, any noncompliance needs to be addressed immediately.  If compliance is not forthcoming , relief from the court needs to be sought quickly.  The court does not appreciate anyone violating court orders, and is happy to help set the tone of compliance if simply brought to its attention.


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