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Enforcement of Orders
In family law, an enforcement action is a process by which you legally document the opposing party’s failure to abide by the order of the court.
You may need to pursue an enforcement action against the opposing party for a variety of reasons, including violations of existing injunctions (such as a custody order, or a support order), alimony, division of community estate, and more.
After an exhausting divorce or custody suit, you might breathe a sigh of relief having finally reached the end of a long battle. You probably imagine calmer skies ahead. Unfortunately, for some individuals, the fight is only starting to heat up.
The reality is that a judge can come up with a custody schedule and order child support, but you still need to rely on your child’s parent to follow through in honoring his or her part of the deal. What happens if your child’s parent denies you visitation or you are being falsely accused of disobeying the court order?
Imagine if your child support payment suddenly stop or your ex-spouse refuses to sign over marital property awarded to you in your divorce. What do you do?
In these instances, the answer is you need to bring an enforcement action against the offending party and you need an attorney that understands the intricacies of enforcement actions like ours at Goldsmith, Katz & Argenio, PC.
How to Document Violations?
Enforcement actions can have serious consequences for the offending party if the court ultimately finds that a party has violated the terms of its orders. As such, keeping copious records of the violations, including the time, place, and manner in which the order was violated is a useful place to begin.
As a litigant to an enforcement action, you also want to do your best to appear before the court with “clean hands” yourself. This means you need to abide by the terms of the order as written.
Consider the following: your child custody order states you will pick up your children on Friday afternoons at 5:30 at your ex-wife’s house. On Friday morning, she calls you and says the children are not coming as she has taken them to Flordia to visit their grandparents.
Do you still go to her house at 5:30 to pick up your children? The answer to that inquiry is yes, you do.
You are expected to follow the existing order to the letter and you need show that you showed up when you were supposed to and where you were supposed to in order to exercise your period of possession to your children.
This is true even if you know your children won’t be there. It would also be wise to take a picture that is time stamped to prove you were there at the date and time you were supposed to be present.
If you are struggling with a situation wherein your child’s parent is refusing to follow the terms of your court order and you don’t know how to proceed, seeking the guidance of an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process is generally the best course of action.
We are ready and willing to guide you through the process, from assisting you to building up the proper evidentiary record to support your claims, to filing the enforcement action and ultimately trying it on your behalf. Our seasoned attorneys are here to help.
How to Bring a Motion to Enforce
An enforcement action also referred to as a Motion to Enforce, is a very intricate, detail oriented pleading which few people know how to draft on their own. Often times it involves quasi-criminal offenses which can lead to jail time for the offending party.
As such, if you fail to strictly comply with the requirements the court will not be in a position to grant the relief you are requesting. For these reasons, you should hire an experienced attorney to assist you like our lawyers Goldsmith, Katz & Argenio, PC.
Punishment for Violating Court Orders
Failing to abide by the terms of a court order can have serious consequences for the offending party. Judges have a range of options for compelling compliance with the terms of their orders, such as:
- Finding the offending party in contempt of court;
- Issuing a fine against the offending party;
- Placing the offending party in jail or on community supervision; and/or
- Forcing the disobeying party to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees.
Continuing to disobey the judge’s order will generally only increase the severity of the punishment. Consequently, those facing an enforcement action should seek the advice of an attorney quickly.
Defenses to Violations
Sometimes individuals have legitimate reasons they did not follow the terms of a court order. For example, perhaps the parties reached a mutual agreement to vary from the terms of the court order on a pick-up/drop-off location for the children or the order itself is not sufficiently clear.
When this occurs, having an attorney that knows how to assist you in presenting your defense to the court is important to avoid the severe penalties that can result from a properly plead enforcement action. If you have been accused of contempt, then you need a skilled lawyer to defend you, and having an experienced attorney by your side will make the process easier.
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We have over 30 years experience helping various clients with their legal needs, with experienced and board-certified attorneys. We put our emphasis on helping our clients do what is in their best interest, and our clients’ needs always come first.
Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to review your case.
Our attorneys will help you decide what course of action is the correct decision for your particular situation.
We will be your partner and guide you through the law so you can have every advantage your entitled to.
Meet Our Attorneys
We Have a Team of Experienced, Trustworthy and Compassionate Attorneys
Jonathan R. Goldsmith
Thomas E. Argenio
Goldsmith, Katz & Argenio, P.C. is a well-established law firm in Springfield, Massachusetts dedicated to providing effective and efficient representation in a wide array of legal matters. We represent business and individual clients throughout Western Massachusetts, providing personal service and responsiveness that exceeds what is offered by larger firms.
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