Options If Divorce Papers Are Not Being Adhered To

Written by kimberly turtenwald
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Options If Divorce Papers Are Not Being Adhered To
If you do not follow a court order, it can cost you. (Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images)

Court orders are put into place to require a person to legally do what's ordered by a judge, such as in the case of a divorce. However, this doesn't mean that people always follow the orders as they're written. If this happens to you, options are available to urge the other party to follow through with the court orders.

Child-Support Enforcement

If the person who is ordered to pay child support isn't complying with the order on his own, you can file with your local child-support enforcement agency. The service is typically free. The agency works to find out where your ex is working and requires him to make the payments. A wage garnishment may be put into place to withdraw the child-support funds directly from his check to pay you. If he's behind on support, the agency may even be able to request garnishment of his tax return.


If any portion of a court order isn't being followed by the other party, you can file a contempt charge with the courts. You don't need a lawyer to file for contempt, but it can be helpful if you do use one. The judge looks at the case and determines if your ex can be held in contempt of court. It's likely that if it's the first time you've filed contempt, she'll only receive a warning and be instructed to follow the orders. However, if she hasn't removed your name from credit cards or other loans as requested, the court can order a judgment in your favour for monetary damages incurred by the credit cards or loans.

Law Enforcement Assistance

Some portions of the divorce order can be enforced with the help of local law enforcement. If your ex is not complying to an order to vacate the marital home or has refused to return the children at the appointed time, you can contact either your local police or the county sheriff's office for assistance. Show your divorce decree to the law enforcement office, and it will send an officer with you to enforce the decree. If your ex fails to comply to police orders, he can be arrested.

Jail Time

If contempt charges are more severe or show a pattern of failure to adhere to the orders, a judge may order that your spouse spend time in jail. This is more commonly done when child support is owed, but can also be used for other areas that are not being followed, such as no-contact orders or following through with court-ordered counselling or anger management. In certain cases, the offending party serves a specific amount of jail time, but in other cases, he may be required to remain in jail until a specific action is completed, such as paying back support or completing a counselling program.

Other Consequences

In addition to possible jail time, other consequences may also be ordered. If your ex is failing to adhere to the custody or visitation order in place or is found to be in contempt in any other manner, a modification can be ordered, which may result in the loss of visitation or custody. Failure to pay child support can also result in losing your driver's license. If your ex doesn't surrender assets or property that has been ordered to you, the court can place an order that removes these items from her possession. The courts can go over her head and take action if she fails to comply with a court order.

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