As divorce proceedings conclude, former spouses might breathe a sigh of relief as they prepare to begin the next chapter of their lives. However, disputes may linger when a court order is not followed. If your former partner is refusing to comply with one or more divorce agreements, Holstrom, Block & Parke, APLC can help you discover your options for enforcement. Our Newport Beach divorce attorneys possess substantial experience helping clients to enforce orders relating to spousal support, visitation, child custody, and child support.
Call us today for a free phone consultation and speak to an attorney about your post-decree enforcement issues.
When a written order for child support has been approved by a court, the named supporting parent must make payments according to the terms of the agreement. However, if a judge determines that a parent knowingly and intentionally refused to pay support, that parent may be held in contempt of court. A finding of contempt may carry both civil and criminal punishments.
Contempt can be met with punishments outlined in California Code of Civil Procedure § 1218(c):
(1) For a first offense: community service
or imprisonment not exceeding 120 hours
(2) For a second offense: community service and imprisonment not exceeding 120 hours
(3) For a third or subsequent offense a court may order the following:
(A) Imprisonment and community service of up to 240 hours
(B) Payment of administrative fees
A court will typically take into account a parent’s financial situation and employment when ordering fines, community service, or imprisonment. The court may also suspend the Driver’s License, as professional license of the non payor, as well as levy bank accounts and intercept tax refunds.
After investing countless hours negotiating an agreement regarding child custody or visitation, it can be enormously frustrating when one parent chooses to ignore (or selectively apply or interpret) the terms of an order. You do not have to allow these violations to occur without contest. In fact, allowing a continuing violation without taking action may result in the court finding an implied modification! Conversely, the courts tend to frown on “self-help.” A parent who refuses to comply with a custody agreement may be held in contempt of court. Our firm can take any necessary legal step to compel compliance.
Even if you believe that your ex-spouse is acting unlawfully, it is critical to express a dispute using the proper legal tools. Violating the terms of a visitation or custody agreement in order to “make up” for time lost due to another party’s actions can have negative consequences in the court room. For example, if a parent blocks your visitation period and you respond by taking your child at an unscheduled time, you may face charges of deprivation of child custody, or contempt of court yourself.
California Penal Code § 278.5 defines the deprivation of child custody in the following way:
(a) Every person who takes, entices away, keeps, withholds, or conceals
a child and maliciously deprives a lawful custodian of a right to custody,
or a person of a right to visitation, shall be punished by imprisonment
in a county jail not exceeding one year, a fine not exceeding one thousand
dollars ($1,000), or both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment
pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three
years, a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or both that
fine and imprisonment.
(b) Nothing contained in this section limits the court's contempt power.
(c) A custody order obtained after the taking, enticing away, keeping, withholding, or concealing of a child does not constitute a defense to a crime charged under this section.
Is your ex-spouse refusing to comply with a court order after a divorce? Do not take action before contacting Holstrom, Block & Parke. There are a multitude of reasons why an order may not be followed and our attorneys can help you find the most appropriate solution for your situation. Our team includes six Certified Family Law Specialists and our Newport Beach divorce attorneys can be in your corner every step of the way.
If you are interested in learning more about post-decree enforcements or how our firm can help you, call or contact us online.