Divorce is not an easy legal process to go through. Even after a case is settled, both parties are responsible for keeping the promises they have made in their agreements and/or following the orders set forth by the court. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. Property division, Child support, and custody agreements are often broken or not followed to the agreed-upon terms. If you are feeling like your ex-spouse is not living up to their end of the divorce agreement, you can do something about it.
Scottsdale Family Law has over 60 years of experience in the Enforcement of Court Orders. You are well within your rights to make sure that divorce agreements are upheld. Contact our team today to learn how we can help enforce the agreements and orders of your divorce.
It is all-too-common that one party fails or refuses to comply with the demands of the court. Sometimes the failure is intentional, other times it is not. Not paying child support is an example of a common violation, but there are several other court order violations that can be enforced with the help of an experienced lawyer.
If a party does not pay their court-ordered child support or spousal maintenance payments, the court may hold that party in contempt. Courts have the ability to order jail time and/or monetary sanctions against the party in contempt. Failure to pay child support is generally considered civil contempt rather than criminal. But a court can order a party to be jailed until they pay all or a portion of their agreed-upon payments.
Arizona law dictates that court-ordered support payments must be paid above all else. This means that even if the party is unemployed or claims they cannot afford to pay child support, they are still obligated to pay. Failure to do so can result in jail time Sometimes, however, the failure is unavoidable, such as when the party failing to pay truly has no money and no job. In those rare circumstances, jail time is off the table.
Parenting time, commonly known as “custody,” “visitation,” or “access,” is the court-ordered time schedule the parents have with their children. Typical violations of this include missing, cutting short, or unilaterally extending their allotted parenting time. However, if the custodial parent finds that the other party is endangering the child, abusing legal or illegal substances in front of the child, acting recklessly around the child, or conducting unsupervised visits when supervision is required, could also be considered as a failure to comply with parenting time orders.
In some cases, if the child has been taken out of the state without permission, or if one party feels the child is in imminent danger, they can seek a warrant for custody of the child. This often happens when the physical custody of the child has been ordered, but one party refuses to relinquish custody. The court can intervene to compel the change of the parenting time arrangement.
In the majority of cases, though, a child becomes angry with or estranged from a parent, and aligns with the other. These resist-refuse dynamics (often referred to as “alienation” cases) frequently require the assistance of a therapeutic interventionist (“TI”) or court-ordered behavioral interventionist (“COBI”) to encourage and sometimes even force compliance with parenting time orders.
Sometimes the terms of the divorce dictate that one party must be ordered to turn over certain property, items, or a portion of a financial account, such as dividing a joint retirement account or non-residential property. If one party fails to hand over the property, that party can be held in contempt and usually is ordered to pay the other party reimbursement for all or a portion of the prevailing party’s attorney’s fees
Occasionally in a divorce, a judge may award one of the parties a portion of their attorney fees and costs to the other party. Paying these fees also is enforced by a court order.
The rules in a divorce are designed to provide balance and for children to keep relationships with both parties. Courts can’t hold someone in contempt without a good reason. A party can only be found in contempt if the party was aware of the order, was able to obey it, but continued to violate the order without a legitimate reason. Being found in contempt of court could result in fines, sanctions, or even jail time.
Courts are reluctant to jail offenders because it could limit their earning potential. Jail time is only used for extreme cases. It is not uncommon for a judge to rule that the violating party take parenting classes, seek counseling, or make an effort to improve themselves in some way for the sake of the child. Other consequences could include supervised visitation or less parenting time, depending on the circumstances.
Not all Arizona lawyers are experienced in family law like the lawyers at Scottsdale Family Law are. Divorce decrees and other court orders need to be written in such a way that they can be enforced properly. If you are having trouble and need assistance with the enforcement of court orders, do not go in alone. Contact Us to find out how we can help.