Contempt of Court: Why You Should Never Violate Your Final Divorce Decree

Husband shouting at his soon-to-be ex-wife

Once the court has passed a final divorce decree, it automatically retains all the power to enforce every single aspect outlined in the decree. In the event that either party violates anything in the decree without going through the proper motions of requesting a modification with the court, then the court will consider that party in contempt of court. Being in contempt of court is a very serious offense that can lead to criminal and court penalties, hefty fines, payments to the lawyer of the other party, and even jail time. Seek the help of a reliable divorce lawyer in Utah County if you are in this kind of situation.

Informing the Court of Your Ex-Spouse’s Divorce Decree Violation

Lawyer handing a divorce document to a womanWhen you find that your ex-spouse has violated anything in your final divorce decree, you have all the right to file a motion with the court for contempt of court either through your lawyer or a pro se litigant, meaning on your own. You or your lawyer has to serve a copy of the motion for contempt to your ex-spouse. If you are intent on doing everything on your own, you can contact the court clerk for more details about specific forms that you have to complete and file with the court as well as the laws about how you should serve your ex-spouse the notice.

Your motion has to clearly state how your ex-spouse violated the decree. This means that it’s up to you to prove your ex-spouse’s violation in court. In general, divorcees usually violate divorce issues such as child custody, child support, visitation, distribution of property, and spousal support.

If Your Ex-Spouse is Found Guilty of Contempt of Court

If you’ve succeeded in proving the violation of your ex-spouse, he or she will probably stay in jail during the court hearings. Majority of judges will allow guilty parties to comply with the order that they violated, but if they don’t or can’t do it, then the court will have no choice but to put them in jail. The court will then issue an order specifying that your ex-spouse is officially in contempt of court and detailing how they can resolve the issue. The court might give your ex-spouse a specific time frame within which you can comply or order your ex-spouse to comply immediately. Each state also has its own laws that can enable your ex-spouse to avoid jail time or pursue an early release. However, if the following applies to your ex-spouse, then he or she might avoid jail time:

  • Possible loss of employment
  • No one to take care of dependent kids
  • Confirmed inability to follow the divorce decree
  • Emotional and/or physical disabilities

While it’s true that a divorce decree is literally a piece of paper, it’s not just any piece of paper. It’s one that’s filed with a court and contains specific orders that when violated can lead to severe repercussions that will be extremely difficult to get out of. Therefore, if you find that you’re having difficulty complying with a particular order and close to violating it, speak to your divorce lawyer to check what legal remedies might apply to your case.

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