What Should I Do IF My Ex Is Not Following Court Orders?
Court orders or judgments in divorce and custody cases are not self-enforcing. In most cases, neither the court or the friend of the court will follow-up with the parties after the orders are entered. The exception is child support, the friend of the court by law is required to account for and enforce child support orders for the benefit of the child in any case involving children where the parties have no opted out of the friend of the court services. Otherwise, the parties are expected to act as adults and follow the orders of the court.
Unfortunately, this is not always true and one party will fail to act accordingly. These issues tend to come up most in cases that involve custody and parenting time partly due to the prolonged time that these orders are in place and the personal nature of parenting. A divorce judgment could be entered when a child is two (2) years old and the custody/parenting time provisions will be in place for another sixteen (16) years until the child reaches age eighteen (18). Another category of cases where these issues arise is spousal support or alimony, partially for the same reasons and also most people that are ordered to pay alimony do not like it. In addition, in these cases the support is often secured by life insurance for the benefit of the payee so long as the alimony is payable. The payer is supposed to keep the life insurance in place with the payee as the beneficiary and provide proof of the same annually to the payee. Sometimes the payer is very reluctant to provide the proof or will refuse even after being asked. Finally, these issues can even come up in property division cases, where one party is refusing to comply with the terms, such as refusing to sign documents or transfer assets as ordered.
When this occurs it is the responsibility of the wronged party to file a motion and bring the problem to the court's attention. The party should file either a motion to enforce the order or a motion to hold the non-compliant party in contempt. In either case, the court will read the motions and allow the parties to present their sides. The court will then issue an order that often will include at least an admonishment to the non-compliant party and sometimes sanctions or fines, including ordering the offending party to pay the other side's attorney fees and costs for having to file the motions. Courts generally expect their orders to be followed and do not like it when one fails to follow the orders or play games with the other side in the margins. The worst thing that a wronged party can do in these situations is nothing, because that party may lose his or her rights and it encourages the other party to continue to do wrong.
Family law and divorce are complicated areas of the law. If you are having issues with someone not following the orders of the court or disobeying a judgment of divorce, please contact my assistant, Cathy, to schedule an appointment by calling us at (248) 608-4123 or through this web site.