Can You Be Found in Contempt of Court for Failure to Comply with the Divorce Decree?
Once a divorce is finalized, the divorce decree will contain the specific rights and obligations of each party. Often, this includes provisions describing the terms of spousal maintenance, child support, or child custody. Spouses are expected to comply with the terms of the divorce decree.
Failure to comply can result in civil contempt of court, a form of punishment for not following a court order. If you are found to be in contempt, there may be significant consequences, including fines or even jail time. This is meant to ensure that each spouse meets their legal obligations according to the court order.
Divorce Decree Noncompliance
Spouses who cannot meet their obligations should seek a modification through the appropriate administrative or judicial avenue. It may be possible to change a child support, spousal support, or child custody order. The worst thing a person can do is to simply fail to meet his or her obligation. Failure to comply with a court order can lead to being held in contempt of court. A spouse who does not pay support may also be subject to wage garnishment, property liens, bank account seizures, and other collection procedures.
In civil contempt proceedings, the judge will consider several factors, including the nature and severity of the violation, whether there was intentional disregard for the court's orders, and whether the party has a history of noncompliance. The judge will also look at any mitigating circumstances that may have caused the spouse to fail to comply with the divorce decree. If the judge finds that the spouse willfully violated the court order, then a finding of contempt may be made with consequences such as fines or jail time.
It is important for spouses to seek legal advice before attempting to modify their divorce decree, as there are strict procedures and deadlines associated with these actions. If these processes are not followed, it can lead to a finding of contempt. It is always better to seek legal counsel and modify the decree if you are having trouble complying with its terms, than to risk being found in contempt of court.
Contact a St. Charles Divorce Lawyer
Parties who do not follow the terms of the divorce decree may be subject to enforcement measures and may even be found in contempt of court. If you are unable to meet your post-divorce obligations, need to modify the divorce decree, or need help enforcing a court order, contact Shaw Sanders, P.C.. Our Kane County divorce attorneys can help you take the right steps. Call 630-584-5550 for a free consultation.