When Someone Doesn’t Honor A Divorce Decree

Regardless of whether you are in the divorce process or beyond it, there is always a concern that your former spouse won’t follow the divorce decree. Before your divorce could be finalized, there were many details that needed to be sorted. Though there are always unique elements to consider, most people have to agree about dividing marital assets, child and spousal support, and custody. 

Either you and your spouse (with your attorneys and/or a mediator) worked through these issues, compromised, and arrived at a conclusion, or a judge did so for you. The terms of your agreement were outlined in a divorce decree. Most people are relieved when the details are finalized. But what happens if your former spouse refuses to follow through with spousal support or continually finds ways of violating the custody agreement? 

Enforceable by Contempt

For the moment, let’s assume that your former spouse can follow through with the divorce decree but chooses not to. If someone loses a job and cannot pay child support, there will be a different response vs. them deliberately ignoring the court order. Your lawyer will file a motion for contempt of court when it is the latter. In it, your attorney states what order has been violated (e.g., your former spouse isn’t paying child support). 

Ultimately, your ex will have the ability to respond to the motion, and a hearing will be scheduled. If the judge concludes that someone is in contempt of court, they will also explain how to rectify the situation. You may hear the term “purging contempt” as well. Many people ask if being in contempt of court warrants jail time—and it may. There are also times when a judge may take a person’s driver’s license or another professional license that they require to perform their job. 

Another possible scenario is that the judge suspends the commitment, meaning the person will not go to jail if they pay back a specified amount of what they owe you. Even if you are extremely upset about the violation, stay focused on resolving the issue rather than seeking retribution. Your former spouse cannot support your children from jail. However, if they fail to uphold the judge’s orders, then they could face the jail time that had been previously suspended. 

Andrea L. Gamalski Attorney & Counselor at Law

If you have further questions regarding a family law matter, contact our office to schedule a consultation. We offer our new clients free consultations because we want to learn more about your issue before explaining your legal options. 

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Andrea L. Gamalski Attorneys at Law

Andrea L. Gamalski understands how important it is to have a compassionate and empathetic family law attorney who fights hard for their clients in the courtroom–mainly because she’s been one of these clients herself.

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