If a person violates a court order regarding child custody, possession and access, or child support, a motion to enforce may be the best or only remedy available to a nonoffending parent.
If a parent is failing to pay for child support, pay for medical care, the law provides that the nonpaying parent could have those funds garnished from his or her pay; tax refunds could be withheld from the nonpaying parent to cover those payments in whole or in part; the court can put a lien against your property; you could lose professional licenses, drivers’ licenses, fishing licenses, etc.; and in addition, failure to pay child support could subject you to a finding of contempt of court including fines and even jail time.
If you are facing an enforcement action, especially if the requesting party has asked for jail time, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney who has had success keeping clients out of jail and reducing amounts owed. These are quasi criminal actions, and as a respondent or defendant, you are entitled to certain benefits allowed by the criminal justice system. It is very risky to negotiate or go to court with garnishment or jail time as a requested remedy.
If you are facing an enforcement action for failure to comply with possession and access orders, typically failing to turn over a child for visitation with the other parent, you could also be subject to being held in contempt of court with make up time and jail time. Again, it is extremely risky to negotiate on your own behalf or attend a hearing without experienced legal representation.
If your ex is not complying with a current court order, you should consult with a local, experienced family law attorney, who can advise you as to your options in demanding compliance and retribution for failure to abide by the order. Enforcement actions have special rules that are required because they are quasi criminal in nature. You need an attorney who is up to date on the law and pays special attention to detail in bringing and prosecuting your case.
Do NOT attempt self-help remedies. If your ex is not following the orders in any way, you should have clean hands and continue to follow the orders. You can be held in contempt as well if you fail to follow the orders because your ex is not following the orders. One example is that you should NOT withhold visitation just because your ex is not paying support; and you should NOT withhold support just because your ex is not allowing visitation. You have legal remedies and should speak to a family law attorney about them.
If you cannot make child support payments, contact an attorney about your options. It is best to do this when you still have options, before you have missed payments and before a motion to enforce is filed against you.
TALK TO OUR ATTORNEYS TODAY: Sarah M. Rose and Hannah Stroud look forward to answering your questions about spousal maintenance. Call 972-731-6500 to schedule a consult.