What Happens if Your Ex-Spouse Does Not Follow a Court Order?

signing a court order

A family law court order is a legally binding agreement that must be followed by both parties. In the event your spouse refuses to do so, it is up to you to decide what is an appropriate next best step. In some cases, this might mean requesting to modify the court order. In others, it may mean holding your spouse in contempt of court. Today, we go over your options and what you need to know about modifying and enforcing a court order.

What Can You Do if Your Ex Will Not Comply with the Terms of a Family Law Agreement?

If your ex-spouse does not follow the terms of a child custody, child support, or spousal support agreement, you do have the option of filing a petition to enforce the judgement in court. Officially known as a Petition for Rule to Show Cause, this is a plea that requests the court enforce the terms of your agreement.

If you feel that your ex-spouse may just need to be reminded of the terms of the court order, you could also take a less official approach and have a conversation with him/her. You also have the option of requesting to modify a court order if either you or your ex-spouse feel the terms no longer make sense for your situation.

What Happens if Your Ex-Spouse Continues to Refuse to Follow a Court Order?

A court order is an official ruling that should be taken seriously. If your ex continues to refuse to follow an established order, he/she may be found in civil contempt of the law. When this happens, the court will determine if the contempt committed was willful or non-willful.

Willful contempt

Your ex-spouse knew he/she needed to follow the order, but due to emotional, financial, mental, and/or physical issues, decided not to comply with it.

Non-willful contempt

Your ex decided not to comply with the order due to reasons beyond their control. An example would include a parent not being able to pay for child support due to a recent job loss.

The chances are that a judge will try to modify an agreement if your ex is not following a court order so that it makes sense for both of you. However, if your ex is purposefully refusing to work with you and the court and has committed repeated offenses, it is likely he/she will be held in contempt of court and lose privileges such as custody of their child.

Is It Possible to Get Your Ex to Pay for Your Legal Fees After Enforcing a Court Order?

In the event you must file a Petition for Rule to Show Cause to enforce a judgement, you may be able to petition the court to have your ex pay your legal fees. If your ex is found in contempt of court, he/she will need to pay for any legal fees related to that finding of contempt.

If you have more questions about enforcing or modifying a family law court order, contact our firm online or by calling (949) 577-7935 today.