When a couple divorces, their court may enter a court order that addresses many issues such as child custody, parenting time, spousal support, and property division.
If one spouse does not comply with a court order during a divorce, it can have serious consequences. These consequences can include wage garnishment, property liens, bank account seizures and even jail time.
Contempt of Court
During a divorce, the parties often have specific orders regarding property division, spousal support, child custody, or visitation. If one spouse does not comply with these orders, he or she can be held in contempt of court.
In order to be found in contempt of court, your ex must have intentionally violated your divorce decree or child custody agreement. Examples of this would include refusing to pay child support or late payments, not picking up your children on time, or being inconsistent with your visitation schedule.
The best way to prove that your ex is in violation of your divorce decree is by gathering evidence, such as emails, text messages, and account statements. You should also take screenshots of your ex’s behavior, if possible.
In most cases, the punishment for a spouse who is found in contempt of court is a monetary fine or imprisonment. However, if your ex is a repeated offender, the consequences could be worse.
Motion for Contempt
A final divorce decree is a binding document that maps out the requirements of each spouse in terms of distribution of possessions, child support, spousal support, and a parenting plan (if applicable).
When one spouse does not comply with a court order during a divorce, this can lead to a Motion for Contempt. Depending on the type of order, the non-compliant party may be held in contempt, given a time limit to remedy the situation, or have their agreement modified to ensure compliance.
In a motion for contempt, the requesting party must prove that the violation of the order was willful and that it harmed or prejudiced the other party’s rights. The burden of proof is on the requesting party to prove this, and the court usually takes this into account.
Notice of Contempt Hearing
If you believe that your spouse is violating a court order, you may wish to file for a notice of contempt hearing. This type of hearing will allow the judge to hear evidence on both sides of the issue and decide whether or not contempt has occurred.
Alternatively, you can attempt to settle the matter with your spouse before taking it back to court by filing a motion for clarity or seeking alternative dispute resolution methods. A family law attorney can help you decide which route is best for your particular situation.
Generally speaking, contempt of court proceedings can be classified as either civil or criminal. This distinction is determined by the purpose of the proceeding and the character of relief.
Ex Parte Hearing
If you need an emergency order to protect yourself, your children or your property from a spouse who is violating your divorce agreement, you can request an ex parte hearing. An ex parte hearing means that the judge will hear your application from you and not from the other party who may have information that could hurt you.
A judge will then consider your ex parte hearing application and issue an emergency order, such as a temporary custody order or restraining order. The emergency order may include attachments such as directing the opposing party to post a child abduction bond, require a district attorney’s assistance or requiring visitation only with a paid supervisor.
The key to winning an ex parte hearing is to have strong evidence that your spouse is violating the decree. This can include documentation, printed emails and screenshots from your cell phone.