A family court order is legally binding. If you recently divorced and your family court order contains terms for child support, child custody, or alimony, it is essential for you and your ex to abide by these terms to the letter. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and some divorced spouses violate their family court orders both intentionally and accidentally. It is essential to not only understand your rights and obligations under your divorce order but also what to do in the event your ex breaches the terms of this agreement in any way.
Violating Alimony Terms
If you have the right to alimony under the terms of your divorce order, your ex must adhere to these terms entirely. Your alimony agreement will include the amount your spouse must pay and the frequency of their expected payments. In most cases, alimony is paid monthly, and the amount you receive depends on the difference between your ex’s net monthly income and your own net monthly income.
Life is unpredictable, and it’s possible that an ex responsible for alimony may miss a payment due to unforeseen circumstances or submit a payment a few days late. This typically is not sound cause to file a court motion against them, but if late payment becomes a consistent habit or missed payments start to accrue, this can cause financial problems for the recipient. This behavior will also justify the recipient to seek formal remedy from the court.
Pursuing a court order to compel your ex to pay alimony as required by your divorce agreement typically begins with petitioning for enforcement. The court will compel your ex to submit missed payments and ensure they do not miss future payments. However, if you have evidence that nonpayment was willful and intentional, it’s possible to file contempt proceedings against your ex. Contempt of court carries significant legal penalties, up to and including jail time in some cases. Consult your attorney if you are unsure whether you have grounds to file contempt proceedings against your ex.
Violation of Child Custody and/or Child Support Terms
Any violation of a family court order pertaining to child support or child custody is a serious matter, and the court will carefully examine the situation to determine the best possible remedy to the issue. If a parent intentionally violates their custody or support terms, they could face severe legal consequences, including loss of their custody rights and contempt of court. A few of the most common examples of custody violations include:
- Traveling out of state with children without notifying the other parent.
- Failing to respond to the children’s other parents concerning custody transfers.
- Repeatedly being late for custody transfers, either pickups or drop-offs.
- Refusing to return children to a custodial parent once a visitation period concludes.
Some of these issues may be one-off situations due to forces beyond either parent’s control. However, in the event a parent intentionally violates a custody agreement, they could face severe criminal penalties, possibly even kidnapping charges.
If you are concerned that your ex has intentionally violated your custody agreement and you cannot reach them to determine what is going on, you may need to call the police to request law enforcement to intervene. Once you understand the situation more clearly, consult with your attorney to determine your best legal remedy to the situation.
In the event your ex has refused or failed to pay child support as required by your divorce order, an attorney can help with this as well. Sometimes this kind of situation may be resolved by petitioning the court for enforcement, but in cases involving refusal to pay child support, it may be necessary for the recipient to file contempt proceedings against their ex.
Penalties for Divorce Order Violation
It is vital for any divorced person to adhere to the terms of their divorce order as closely as possible. Any violation has the potential to lead to severe repercussions. For example, if the court finds you in contempt for nonpayment of alimony or child support, they may garnish your wages, fine you, or even sentence you to jail time depending on the nature of the violation.
Navigating these issues can be incredibly stressful, whether you are on the receiving end of a divorce order violation or if your ex has wrongfully filed contempt proceedings against you. In either situation, an experienced California family law attorney is your best asset. Contact the Law Offices of Dorie A. Rodgers if you have recently experienced any type of violation of your divorce order, and we will help you determine the best possible solution to the situation.