Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. posted in Divorce on Wednesday, December 30, 2015.
So you are done with your divorce and now you have a court order that explains how you and your ex are to pay for expenses for your children. You do exactly what the court order requires but your ex does not. You want a judge to punish your ex with a contempt citation. Beyond that, you want to ensure that s/he abides by the court order in the future. I’m often confronted with the question: How can I force my ex to abide by the court’s order so I don’t have to come back to court again?
The situation is aggravating and unfortunately there is no good solution. Court orders are enforceable by law and we therefore expect people to follow these orders and do what they are told. But, just as drivers who are fully aware of the speed limit will drive 55 in a 45 MPH zone, some people will choose to ignore their legal obligations. The legal system can tell people how to act, and judges can reprimand people in contempt actions for failing to abide by civil court orders, and that includes divorce orders. But the civil court system is not set up to impose automatic penalties for failure to abide by an order. Instead, the person seeking the punishment has the burden of proving, not only that the failure to abide by the order actually occurred, but that the person who failed to follow the order knew about the order and had the ability to do the right thing. That’s a big job.
As frustrating as it is to have someone ignore a court’s orders, especially at your expense, that other person’s bad behavior does not give you the license to do the same. It is important to remember that abiding by the court’s orders yourself and being firm but calm about requesting compliance with the court’s judgment outside of the court system will serve you best if you find yourself in front of a judge. For questions about this or other family law matters, please contact one of the attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C.