After a Final Judgment is entered in the initial case, should one party fail to comply with the order, the other party can often enforce the order or have the person held in contempt. In order to do so, the language in the Final Judgment must be clear and unambiguous and the party’s failure to comply must be willful.
Contempt and enforcement actions are considered by the court as a way to ensure the party complies as opposed to a punitive measure.
There are different remedies available in contempt proceedings depending on what the contempt is for.
For example, if someone fails to pay child support or alimony, one remedy is having the non-paying party incarcerated or requiring a purge to be paid.
Other remedies include having Income Withholding Order entered that goes to their employer to have the support paid directly from the employer.
If the contempt is for failing to permit time-sharing with the minor child, the remedies often include requesting make-up time and, for severe cases requesting a change in the parent who has the majority of the time-sharing or a modification to increase timesharing.
You can also ask for additional make up time.
The court can also consider sending one or both parties to co-parenting classes or therapy.
For actions related to shared parental responsibility the court can enforce the terms or with continued issues grant modification to change parenting to either sole parental responsibility of decision making authority. Again the court can also order therapy and/or co-parenting classes.
The ability to incarcerate a party is often a strong and effective remedy, but is not available for all issues.
The court has the ability to incarcerate a person for willfully failing to pay child support or alimony. However, if the court desires to use this remedy, it must give the person the person a purge of a sum the court finds the person has the ability to pay and a timeframe to pay.
If the person pays the sum within the timeframe, they are not incarcerated.
For all other financial issues, incarceration is not a remedy the court can utilize.
This is because a person cannot be incarcerated for the inability to pay their bills. Incarceration can also be considered for failing to perform certain acts (such as signing documents).
One remedy that should always be considered is the repayment of attorney’s fees and costs.
This is often at the discretion of the court, but is often granted when the court finds the other party has willfully failed to comply with the court’s order.
Often when our firm files a Motion for Contempt or Motion to Enforce we add a Motion for Clarification so the court can clarify any language the court feels is ambiguous.
Each case has different remedy options, and a lawyer should be consulted to determine what remedies are available. Our firm offers free consultations and payment plans to assist clients in obtaining legal representation. Please contact our firm to discuss your case.