Has your Ex promised to return your family jewelry only to come up with another excuse as to why they can’t? Or, perhaps, they’ve been ordered to pay alimony, yet you’ve been waiting for them to make their first payment for months. Unfortunately, situations such as the aforementioned are not uncommon. And, when it comes to family law, it’s not enough to simply have a court order; you’ll also need to file a motion to enforce it. Though it’s certainly frustrating and expensive, your best option may be to go back to court if you’re hoping to get your ex to follow through with the court order.
Is It Worth It?
Even if your ex has already been ordered to do something, such as return a piece of property, you will need to file a motion to enforce the order if they are refusing to comply. Although having a court order does mean that your ex has a legal obligation to do something, it doesn’t mean that the order will be enforced the second your ex fails to meet their obligation. Because you’ll need to go to court to have the order enforced, it’s important that the benefits outweigh the financial and time cost of going to court. For example, if your ex is hoarding items that have only sentimental value, it may not be worth it to go to court in an attempt to get them back. However, if your ex is significantly behind on child support, it is more likely worth your time and money to go to court and have the order enforced.
When It’s Worth It
If you decide it’s worth it to file a motion to enforce order, you and your attorney will file the motion, and a hearing will be scheduled. At the hearing you will need to prove that your ex has not complied with the court order. In order to do this, you will need to prove the following: that there was an order, your ex knew of the order, your ex understood the order, and your ex willingly chose not to follow the order. At the hearing, the commissioner, or judge, may or may not enforce the order depending on whether you have sufficiently proven your ex has intentionally defied the order.
What Can Happen?
A couple of different things could happen when a judge decides whether or not to enforce the order. A judge could impose sanctions, meaning the party who failed to follow the order could have to pay their ex’s attorney’s fees. In cases where an ex refuses to return an item, the ex may have to pay for replacement costs. But, in order for the ex to be ordered to pay for a replacement, the other party must be able to establish the item’s value. Or, a judge may re-affirm the initial decision and admonish your ex for not following the court order. Lastly, your ex may be held in contempt, which could include jail time if their conduct is consistently defiant and egregious.
When Can You Hold Your Ex in Contempt?
You can file a motion to hold your ex in contempt at any time. However, that does not mean that the judge will actually hold your ex in contempt, or send them to jail. A judge will usually hold someone in contempt only after the party has been admonished for the same issue previously, told to follow the court order, and has failed to do so. Judges don’t like to hold people in contempt unless their behavior is egregious and persistent. Therefore, if your ex’s disregard for the court order isn’t consistently a problem, or particularly egregious, a judge isn’t likely to hold your ex in contempt and throw them in jail.
Working with Your Ex
If you have not yet left the house, make sure to take all the items that you wouldn’t want to lose when you leave the house. Depending on your situation, you may want to take your items to a secure location before you leave the house. In cases where your ex is refusing to give you your items back, or meet their financial obligations, being amicable and respectful toward your ex may help inspire them to be more cooperative. However, if you’re finding that kindness and respect aren’t quite motivating your ex in the right way, an attorney might help. At CoilLaw, our attorneys are experts in high-conflict divorces. If you’re having trouble getting your ex to comply with the court orders, contact us today for an initial consultation.