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Contempt and Enforcement

Contempt and Enforcement

Perhaps you are right in the middle of your divorce and there is a pendente lite order in place. Or, perhaps the divorce is finalized and you have your Judgment of Divorce. Now, your ex-spouse, or soon-to-be ex- spouse violates the terms of the Order or Stipulation. The question is, what can you do about it.

At the outset, the immediate response to a violation of an Order or Stipulation is to seek enforcement of the order or stipulation and if the violation of an order was willful, to seek contempt. Enforcement is a means to enforce the stipulation or order to alert the violating party that their conduct is inappropriate, and to remedy the issue or issues at hand. Contempt is more serious as a finding of contempt requires a willful violation of an order, which means a deliberate interference which prejudices the rights of the other party. The harshest punishment for a finding of contempt is incarceration.

However, depending on the circumstances, different remedies are appropriate at different stages for different issues. For example, let's assume your ex- spouse is never on time to pick up the children for parenting time. This situation should be addressed, however it is not as egregious as a parent who refuses to allow the children to go with the other parent for their visitation at all, and in essence is deliberately interfering with that parent's parenting time. Both situations require attention, but the remedies by which you approach these issues should be handled differently. This is the reason it is so important to speak with an attorney in our office to learn what best fits your situation.

A Court Order and the terms of a parties' Stipulation should be abided by. However, situations arise where parties intentionally or unintentionally violate the terms of a stipulation or order, and thus the remedies of contempt or enforcement may be useful and necessary. If this situation sounds like something you are going through contact the office to get started so you can have an agreement and/or order that works.


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