No matter how emotional you may be about your divorce, you should never lose sight of the fact that divorce is a legal affair. Often, the divorce process means a series of legal actions that culminate in the final decree. The final decree is not the end of the proceedings, however. If issues like child support and custody give rise, more orders are sure to follow. When you or your ex fail to obey an order from the family court judge, there are consequences. Read on to learn more about what could happen to those who go against the wishes of the court.
You Are Hereby Ordered
You might be surprised at how complicated a divorce can be. For some, it might be simpler, however. If you own little or no property, have agreed on how to deal with debts and assets, and have no minor children, you are likely eligible for a simplified and quick divorce that contains only one or two main orders. One party will file for divorce, and then the final order is issued signaling the end of the marriage. For others, the legal actions within the main legal action of divorce can vary depending on several factors. Here is but a partial listing of potential orders that might come during a divorce process:
- Legal separation agreement
- Temporary custody
- Permanent custody
- Visitation by the non-custodial parent
- Child support
- Alimony (spousal support) both temporary and either permanent or rehabilitative
- Financial disclosure
- Orders to vacate a home or give up property
- Orders to pay a debt
When Orders are Not Obeyed
Perhaps the most serious ramifications of failing to follow a judge's order is to be charged with contempt of court. This is a serious charge, and the perpetrator should fall into the willful disobedience category to be charged. For example:
- The party must have knowledge of the order.
- The party has violated the order through their own choice.
- The party has no real excuse for violating the order.
Here is an example to consider: One party in a divorce situation was ordered to comply with a scheduled visitation. That party has a flat tire and was hours late before they were able to comply. The party has a valid reason for non-compliance and is not likely to face a contempt of court charge. On the other hand, if a party fails to produce needed financial documents, even after extensions, they might be in danger of a contempt charge.
For a party to be jailed or fined, the behavior must be willful and egregious. Speak to your divorce lawyer to learn more.