Enforcement of Orders
There is no worse situation than going through the stress of a divorce or child custody proceeding only to have your ex refuse to comply with the court’s orders after the case ends. If the violation involves spousal maintenance, you could find yourself in severe financial hardship without the essential support the court previously determined that you need. Failure to pay child support has similar consequences that affect your child’s life since these funds are intended to cover housing, food, education, and other basics. Noncompliance with court orders also has nonmonetary implications when your ex interferes with the judge’s ruling on custody and visitation.
When one party simply refuses to comply, the order becomes meaningless without a way to enforce it. Unfortunately, if the order is not being followed, then it’s up to you to file something with the court. However, you do not need to shoulder the legal burdens alone. You can count on our order enforcement lawyers at Pomper Price, LLC for assistance with enforcing the orders of a family law court.
We have extensive experience and in-depth knowledge of the relevant laws, enabling us to develop a solid strategy for supporting your case. Please contact our Denver office to set up a consultation with a Colorado enforcement of orders attorney. An overview of the legal concepts may also be informative.
How Order Enforcement Arises in Colorado Family Law Cases
Any order issued in a family law court is akin to a private law that applies to the parties, who enjoy certain rights while also taking on responsibilities according to the language. When someone does not comply with the terms, that person violates the rights of the other party AND offends the court.
Therefore, there are consequences for not complying with a court order, though they will depend on the nature of the violation, how it affects the aggrieved party, implications for children, and other details.
To trigger these consequences and give “teeth” to the family court order, Colorado law provides for a process to enforce them. The most common scenarios include:
- Spousal Maintenance: Though financial factors may affect a party’s ability to pay, some individuals are tempted to withhold spousal support out of spite or disagreements. When you rely on these funds for housing, utilities, educational opportunities, a violation of spousal maintenance obligations leaves you in a dire financial situation.
- Child Support Orders: Every parent has an obligation to support minor children, regardless of whether they are involved in an intact relationship when the child is born. As a result, enforcement actions may arise out of a child support order entered in a divorce case or part of paternity proceedings.
- Child Custody and Visitation: A late pick-up or drop-off, miscommunications about scheduling, and other oversights may seem minor, but more egregious interferences may be actionable. Keep in mind that the concept of custody has been replaced by allocation of parental responsibilities, which refers to decision-making regarding raising the child. There can be unlawful intrusions in this area that are separate from where the child lives or spends time.
Enforcement Remedies for Violation of Court Orders
In sum, aggrieved parties have numerous options for addressing misconduct. Strategies could include filing a motion for contempt of court, filing for a judgment, or filing a motion to enforce. The mechanisms for enforcement can be rigid and narrow depending on the situation. Additionally, the relief available is often inadequate or temporary.
Sometimes you can successfully enforce an order against a party only to have that party turn around and start violating the order again. Sometimes the offending party can escape enforcement by claiming an “inability to comply.”
However, beyond this general overview of enforcement remedies, you should understand certain specific points about the process:
- Potential Requests for Relief: The most common enforcement motions seek remedial relief, in which you request that the court get involved to mandate compliance. Through this strategy, you want the threat of future punishment as an incentive. However, there is also the option of punitive contempt, in which you seek sanctions for violations rather than encouraging future compliance. The punishment for the wrongdoer might include fines or even jail time.
- Minor or Anticipated Violations: Enforcement of family court orders is not an appropriate remedy when you expect that your ex will refuse to comply. You must wait for the violation to occur before taking legal action. In addition, you will generally not qualify for enforcement when the misconduct was isolated.
- Defenses: Even when there is proof of a violation, not every situation of noncompliance will be sufficient to make a case for contempt. A wrongdoer could defend the allegations since you must prove both an ability to comply AND willful violation.
- Mediation: Upon filing a motion to enforce an order, the court may require that the parties go through the mediation process to resolve their differences. While you may be frustrated and angry about the violations, it is important to understand the benefits of mediation in this context – especially when the issues are minor and you simply want compliance through remedial enforcement.
During the proceeding, both parties will sit down to discuss their differences with a licensed mediator. This professional has special training to help encourage productive conversations, which helps each party see the other’s position. You may be able to resolve your differences and get confidence about future compliance through mediation.
Count on Our Team for Legal Assistance
Our attorneys are knowledgeable in the process and legal requirements for seeking enforcement, so we will develop a strategy for pursuing your remedies after reviewing your circumstances. We support your case by:
- Collecting evidence regarding violations
- Preparing a motion for contempt and supporting documentation
- Representing you in connection with mediation proceedings
- Advocating on your behalf in court for a remedial or punitive contempt hearing
How You Can Support Enforcement Efforts
Our lawyers at Pomper Price, LLC are ready to take on the legal issues, but there are a few tasks you can undertake to support us in our efforts. Keep in mind that you need to prove that the other party failed to comply with a binding court order, and the violations need to be something more than minor mistakes. As such, you should:
- Keep detailed records of every violation, including dates whenever possible
- Save all email and text communications, as well as any voice mail messages
- Write down the names of third parties who are aware of violations, such as family members and teachers, and administration at your child’s school
Contact a Colorado Enforcement of Orders Attorney About Your Options
It takes strategy and experience to understand how to best enforce a court order that your ex refuses to comply with. To learn more about the process and your rights, please contact the attorneys at Pomper Price, LLC. We have the experience and legal acumen to help you obtain meaningful relief, so call 720-780-8288 or contact us here to schedule a free, one-hour consultation today. Our main office serves the greater Denver area, and we work with clients from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs out of multiple satellite locations. You can also set up a virtual meeting by making appropriate arrangements.