An ex who doesn't comply with court orders can prove difficult, and having them held in contempt of court is only one of a few options to make them change their ways.
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Note that answers given in this section cannot take the place of independent, legal or financial advice. Please read our disclaimer.
"My ex-spouse isn't living up to our divorce decree. What do I do?"
You have many different remedies, but which remedies you choose depends on exactly what your ex-spouse failed to do.
For example, if you are owed child support or alimony, you have such options as contempt of court (including having your ex-spouse put in jail for nonpayment), wage garnishment, and court-ordered seizure of certain assets -- even IRAs and pension benefits. You also can be awarded reimbursement of attorney's fees for having to chase after payment. When the amount owed is unpaid child support, you can also seek suspension of your ex-spouse's driver's license and have his or her tax refunds diverted to you.
When your ex is not complying with other financial aspects of your divorce decree, you can seek court relief, but not contempt. You can obtain a Judgment against your ex and then use various collection methods to seize his or her assets and wages to collect what you are owed.
When your ex is not complying with obligations related to child custody and visitation, you may be able to have him or her held in contempt of court. You can seek to alter the custodial or visitation arrangements, including make-up visitation if your access to the children has been denied, or requesting limited or supervised visitation if your ex-spouse is guilty of misconduct that is detrimental to the best interests of the children. If the violation is repeatedly not exercising visitation, you may also seek to change the child-support payments and to obtain funds for babysitters and after-care programs.
What remedies to pursue depends upon which provisions of the divorce decree have been broken, when they were broken, and the nature of the violations. In general, the more serious the violation, the more significant the penalty to be imposed upon the ex-spouse.
Joel H. Feldman is a Managing Member of the Law Office of Feldman & Schneiderman. He has been practicing law in south Florida for 24 years and is rated "AV" and "Preeminent" by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Publications.