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Family court orders are important legal documents that bind you and your former partner to certain obligations as set forth in your divorce decree. Attorney Elizabeth J. Martinez is an experienced and goal-oriented advocate who will put your needs and interests at the forefront as she helps you take legal action against a former spouse who is not complying with their court-ordered obligations.
Our firm helps clients petition for enforcement of court orders such as those governing:
- child custody;
- child support;
- spousal support (alimony); and
- property and debt division.
If a parent refuses to comply with a court-ordered custody arrangement, such as keeping the child with them instead of allowing the other parent time with them (also called “parental alienation”), the other parent may take legal action to enforce the custody order. Most enforcement processes follow a similar process of obtaining copies of the appropriate orders and filing required petitions. To enforce a child custody order in particular, you must obtain certified copies of the orders you wish the court to enforce. This is usually done by contacting the clerk of the county court that issued the orders. The key to the enforcement process is filing a Petition for Enforcement of a Child Custody Determination, which must address:
- the jurisdictional basis determined by the court that issued the initial order;
- whether the order has been vacated or modified;
- whether another order is in place, such as a protective order or parental termination order;
- other relevant factors.
Once the court receives the petition, they will issue an order for the other parent to appear in a hearing.
A parent who does not comply with a court custody order will be found in Contempt of Court. This could result in a range of penalties, such as paying a bond and even being sent to jail. The court will likely order that the parenting time be made up to the parent who was denied access, and this could also be grounds for the other parent to pursue a modification of the custody order due to the parent’s misconduct.
Child support orders may also be enforced by the court. If you find that the other parent is not paying the child support they are obligated to by court order, you may file a Petition for Contempt. The court will then sign an Order to Appear for a hearing, and you will send copies of both forms to the other parent. If the other parent does not appear at the hearing, they will be found in Contempt of Court and may be arrested. However, note that regardless of whether the other parent appears at the hearing or not, you have the burden of proving they were:
- aware of the support order;
- had the ability to pay the child support obligation; and
- willfully and intentionally refused to pay.
The court may also issue other sanctions like license suspension, depending on the severity of the situation.
Enforcing Spousal Support (Alimony) Orders
It is also a civil and criminal violation to fail to pay court-ordered spousal support/alimony. According to Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-511.01, violating such an order is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries up to 6 months in jail. Note that, as in the case of child support enforcement, you will need to prove the following to bring forward a successful enforcement petition:
- the court issued a spousal support order that obligated the spouse to pay;
- the spouse was aware of the order;
- the spouse intentionally and willfully disobeyed the order to pay.
Note that there are several ways to enforce a financial judgement, such as issuing property liens and wage garnishments. An experienced lawyer like Attorney Elizabeth J. Martinez can better help you through the enforcement process and ensure you receive the support you are due.
Enforcing Property Division Orders
Property division is often one of the most contentious divorce disputes, and you have the right to respond with legal action if you are not being given the property as agreed upon in your court order. Note also that family law court orders do not hold power over creditors. If your divorce decree states that your spouse must pay certain debts or take over mortgage payments, this does not guarantee that they will follow through. A lending institution may continue to hold you responsible for credit card bills or house payments even if your divorce decree states otherwise. As a result, it is critical that you consult an experienced lawyer about enforcing the property and debt distribution agreements between you and your former spouse.
To petition for enforcement of property division, you should provide proof of your divorce decree ordering the distribution of property and show that your former spouse refuses to give you the property you are entitled to under the court order.
There are several ways we can help you obtain the assets you are owed. For example, a judge may order a redistribution of assets to account for your ex-spouse’s failure to comply with debt distribution or property distribution orders as set forth in your divorce decree. If the noncompliant party is receiving state assistance of any kind, recovery may come about through withholding from those payments. Collections, and even court order modifications, may bring you the relief that you seek and to which you are entitled; let Martinez Family Law help you obtain this.
Our Scottsdale law firm can help you deal with any issues related to enforcement of court orders affecting you and your family. Schedule a free initial consultation with us to discuss ways we can compel your former spouse to comply with the terms of a court order.
Call (480) 571-7736 or contact Martinez Family Law online to take legal action immediately.
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