While most litigants strive to faithfully comply with court orders, sometimes they don’t. Child support payments are missed. Medical bills are not paid. Visitation schedules are ignored. Harassing phone calls and text messages continue unabated. These are examples of violations of court orders that frequently arise in family law litigation. If a party is not complying with the terms of a court order, whether a temporary order or a final order, you may file a motion for enforcement. For example, if the party ordered to pay child support fails to make payments in accordance with the terms of the court’s order, the party entitled to receive the support payments may file a motion for enforcement. Enforcement actions are not limited to child support. Possession schedules and any other provision of your order may be enforced through an enforcement action.
A motion for enforcement must identify the provision of the order allegedly violated, state the manner of the respondent’s alleged noncompliance, and state the relief requested by the movant (the party filing the motion).
Orders relating to child support and possession of and access to a child may be enforced by contempt. This means that a party failing to comply with a court order may be imprisoned until the party complies with the court’s order. Thus, a party who fails to pay child support may be imprisoned until he or she pays the child support arrearages. In reality, courts seldom send violators to jail, at least for a first offense. But the threat of jail is usually enough to inspire compliance and deter further violations. Importantly, if you prevail in your enforcement action, you may recover from the respondent whatever attorneys’ fees you incurred to bring the action.