How to Hold Someone in Contempt of a Divorce Agreement in Florida
After the dust settles from an initial divorce action the parties will have a final judgment that operates as a court order dictating the details of the resolution of their case.
In some cases, that is where the really difficult work begins
This is because usually one of the parties is not happy with the outcome that they received in court. All too often these aggrieved parties have a difficult time falling in line and obeying the court order.
This begs the question, how do I enforce this court order that I worked so hard to achieve?
The answer is that your final judgment of dissolution needs to be enforced using a motion for contempt.
The most common reasons that we see for contempt matters include a parent not following the custody schedule, a parent not paying their child support, a parent not following provisions regarding extracurricular activities of children, and a former spouse not paying their alimony.
Of course, there are countless ways that someone can violate a final judgment and divorce attorneys certainly see a wide range of these all the time, but these three are the most common that we see at our Orlando family law firm.
What is a motion for contempt?
If someone is in violation of their final judgment you will first need to make sure that you have adequate proof that they are in violation.
This could be in the form of text evidence if someone is not allowing you to see your child. They could be financial documentation if someone is not paying a financial obligation from the divorce. Or, any other way necessary to show a judge that a violation of the order has in fact occurred.
As a best practice, you usually want to have something more than just your word wherever possible to prove the violation.
It is also a very good idea to have some written correspondence with the offending party such as a text or an email where you informed them of the violation, requested that they remedy the issue within a reasonable time, and informed them that if they do not act that you will be forced to seek enforcement.
This good faith attempt will show your judge that you did everything possible to resolve the issue amicably without the need for court involvement.
Once you have verified the violation, gathered your evidence, and sent your good faith letter you are ready to draft and file your motion for contempt.
Of course, it is not advised that you do this motion on your own as there is a specific language that must be used in many cases that would mean the difference between success or failure in court.
For this reason, you always want to seek out the assistance of an Orlando family attorney who is familiar with contempt and enforcement proceedings.
Once your motion for contempt is filed your attorney will schedule a hearing where you will have to testify and present your evidence of the violation.
Be sure to always request payment of attorney’s fees in your motion. That way, if the judge finds the other party in contempt he or she can also order the person in violation to reimburse some or all of your attorney’s fees.
If you need to enforce or defend yourself in an enforcement action then call our office today
Sean Smallwood is an Orlando divorce attorney for the law firm Sean Smallwood, Orlando Divorce & Family Law P.A. where he represents clients in all areas of family law and divorce. 100% of the practice is devoted to family law. As an attorney in Orlando, he has helped many families with a wide variety of family law cases including Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, and many other issues.