Skip to Content
Fearless Family Law & Divorce Representation 908-274-3028

Blogs from October, 2023

Enforcing and modifying family-law related court orders

A family court order is a legally binding decree issued by a judge that outlines the responsibilities and rights of individuals involved in family law disputes, such as divorce, child custody, and spousal support. It is crucial to comply with these court orders, as they are enforceable by law and non-compliance can lead to serious legal consequences. These court orders help maintain fairness and order in family law cases, thereby safeguarding the rights and well-being of all parties involved, particularly children.

Different types of family court orders include:

  • Child custody and visitation orders: These orders clarify the custodial arrangements for children, including who the children will live with and the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent.
  • Child and spousal support orders: These detail the financial obligations of one party to the other, ensuring the well-being of the children and financial stability of the lower-earning spouse after separation or divorce.
  • Division of property orders: These determine how marital assets and debts will be divided between the parties involved.

How Is Non-Compliance Contempt of Court?

Being in contempt of court refers to any behavior that disrespects, undermines, or obstructs the functioning of the court. In the context of a family court order, contempt is generally raised when an individual willfully disobeys or fails to comply with the terms set forth in the order.

Such acts could include refusal to pay child or spousal support, denying the other parent their rightful visitation periods, or failure to adhere to the agreed-upon division of property. In essence, being in contempt is a serious violation of the court's authority and disrespect to the legal process, and as such, it carries significant legal repercussions.

Potential Penalties Associated with Non-Compliance?

Potential penalties for non-compliance with family court orders can be severe and far-reaching. They typically start with being held in contempt of court, which can result in fines or even jail time. The severity of the penalty often depends on the nature of the violation and the individual's previous compliance history. For example, failure to pay child or spousal support could lead to wage garnishment, where a portion of the non-compliant individual's income is withheld and directed towards the payments. The court may also order the non-compliant party to pay the legal fees of the aggrieved party. In extreme cases, where non-compliance continues unabated, the court might issue a warrant for the individual's arrest. It is critical to remember that these penalties aim to ensure the welfare of all parties involved, especially children, and to uphold the integrity of the court's decisions.

Can Being Held in Contempt of Court Affect Your Parental Rights?

Being held in contempt of court can indeed impact your parental rights. A parent who repeatedly disregards court orders related to child custody or visitation may face severe consequences. The court may interpret repeated non-compliance as a disregard for the child's best interests, which is a primary consideration in family law. In extreme cases, this can lead to a modification of child custody or visitation rights. For instance, the court may place restrictions on visitation or, in severe situations, alter custody agreements to limit or even terminate the parental rights of the non-compliant parent. This underscores the importance of abiding by court orders, as failure to do so not only disrespects the court's authority but may also detrimentally affect one's relationship with their children.

Steps to Take if the Other Party Is not Complying

If you are dealing with a party who is not adhering to a family court order, there are several steps you can take to address the issue. Firstly, you can file a motion for enforcement with the court. This is a formal request to the court to require the non-compliant party to adhere to the original court order. The court may then hold a hearing to determine if a violation has occurred and if further action, such as imposing penalties, is necessary. In some cases, local law enforcement can assist in enforcing the order, especially in urgent situations where immediate enforcement is necessary. It is also highly recommended to seek advice from a legal professional.

A family law attorney can help navigate the complex legal process, provide advice tailored to your specific situation, and represent your interests in court. Remember, compliance with family court orders is not optional, and there are legal avenues available to ensure these orders are upheld.

At DeTommaso Law Group, LLC, our attorneys can support you in enforcing family court orders. We offer our experienced legal guidance throughout Somerset County and the surrounding areas. Call our firm today at (908) 274-3028 to schedule a consultation.