39 Years of Trial Experience to Help You Enforce Your Court Order
The provisions contained in your divorce decree are enforceable court orders. If your former spouse is failing to comply with the custody, support, visitation, or property division agreements contained in your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, you can request that the court enforce the terms of your divorce decree.
The bottom line is this – a former spouse who is responsible for paying child support or maintenance should pay it; parenting time should not be interfered with; property should be divided as required under the Judgment. If it is not being done, then your former spouse is violating a legal court order.
If the court orders in your case are not being followed, you can seek remedies such as alleging civil contempt to ensure that you receive all that you are entitled to pursuant to the court order. The court may also order your former spouse to pay the attorney fees you incurred in bringing the enforcement action.
The Law Offices of Carr, O’Rourke & Ernst, LTD have been fighting for spouses and parents in court for nearly 40 years. Contact our firm today to discuss how we can help you receive all that you are entitled to under your divorce decree.
In Illinois, failing to meet the provisions of an effective child custody and visitation order, which is a court order, constitutes an “unlawful visitation interference” and can result in both criminal and civil penalties. A one-time violation may be considered a petty offense, but repeat violations will amount to a Class A misdemeanor punishable by fines and jail time.
Civil action in response to a custody order violation involves filing a request with a family court and proving that the other parent violated the agreement knowingly. The process involves the following documents:
- The original order for parental responsibilities
- A completed “Petition for Rule to Show Cause”
- A Notice of Motion to inform the other parent of the court hearing
The petition will include details about:
- The petitioner’s name, address, and telephone number
- The respondent's name and place of residence, place of employment, or address
- How the respondent violated the order, including the date(s) of the violation(s)
- How the petitioner attempted to fix the problem prior to requesting help from the court
- What the petitioner is specifically asking for
After the petition is filed, the case will proceed to a hearing, where both parents will present their cases. The judge may take a few days to make a decision, which could result in the following outcomes:
- If the judge does not believe the other parent disobeyed the terms of the court order, they may dismiss the case
- If the judge does believe the other parent violated the court order, they may find them in “contempt of court,” which could result in criminal penalties (fines, counseling, up to 6 months in jail) and issue changes to the parenting schedule or order make-up time the petitioner is owed
- The judge may order both parties to resolve the problem in mediation
The same process for enforcement applies in cases of child support and alimony. A parent who is not receiving the child support they are owed can file a “Petition for Rule to Show Cause” with the circuit clerk and ask that the violating parent hold up their end of the agreement. In serious cases, the parent can ask the judge to hold the other parent in contempt for not paying child support. The consequences for contempt include fees and jail time.
The outcome of an enforcement petition will depend on the circumstances. The judge may decide that the appropriate remedy is to order a specific amount of the child support owed to be paid by a certain date or order jail time (though incarceration is rare) if the parent fails to comply. The judge may also require that parent to pay interest on the unpaid support.
Similarly, if either party to an alimony agreement is found to be violating the terms of support, they will be held in contempt of court. This is a serious offense that may result in fines and/or jail time. Examples of violations of alimony include hiding new circumstances that would warrant a change in the alimony amount or willfully withholding payments.
Either party can file a motion to enforce alimony payment, which may lead to the court garnishing the paying spouse’s wages. In severe cases, the offending party may also be required to reimburse court costs and pay fines if they have been found in contempt of court.
Enforcing Property Division
Another element of a divorce decree that can be enforced by the court is the property division agreement. If a spouse willfully disobeys the property division order, they can, like in the above scenarios, be held in contempt of court. A spouse might have violated a property division order by not paying off a loan the two partners share or hiding an asset from the other person.
Different procedures apply to different situations, but everything is nonetheless handled in court. For instance, if the issue is a hidden asset, the spouse that discovered it can take their spouse back to court to discuss the new distribution arrangement. In more serious cases, the spouse who hid the asset can be fined or forced to give all or some of the asset to the other party.
All divorce decrees are court orders that can be legally enforced. If your partner has failed to uphold their end of the agreement, whether by refusing to let you spend time with the children as granted in your custody award, failing to pay child or spousal support, or not abiding by the property division arrangement, you have the right to take legal action by filing a petition for enforcement with the court. The court typically likes to see that the petitioning spouse made attempts to resolve the problem outside of court first, but in many cases, the court will step in after a formal motion for enforcement.
Schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Carr, O’Rourke & Ernst, LTD to discuss your enforcement case in more detail.
“Roland was an excellent listener and took the time to understand and empathize with what was important to me in outcomes. He not only understood the law, but could see the areas where we could negotiate with my ex and her lawyer.”