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Ex Violating Divorce Judgment or Custody Order?

“My ex is violating a court order. What should I do?” As a divorce lawyer Cook, DuPage, and Lake counties, I get that questions a lot. Unfortunately, many people are surprised when they get divorced then find their ex is not following the court order.

I wrote this article to shed some light on what a divorce lawyer can help you do when your ex is violating a court order in Illinois. I’m a divorce lawyer in Illinois, and many times I’ve taken action against against people who don’t follow court orders.

What type of court orders does this apply to? It could be anything. Orders cover the division of retirement accounts, child custody, visitation, and maintenance (alimony), and other issues.

If you got divorced in Illinois and your ex is not following a court, you can do something about it.

What court orders are violated?

As I mentioned before, there are many ways a person can violate a court order.

Here are some examples:

  • Visitation: One parent does not provide the children for court-ordered visitation. Many people have questions about this issue. Illinois Divorce attorney David Wolkowitz, who practices family law in Illinois, wrote this informative article about violation visitation orders you might want to check out.
  • Retirement division: A judgement for dissolution (divorce) might order one party to prepare a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) for the division of a 401k or pension. Sometimes, that’s not done and the account cannot be divided.
  • Cooperation: Sometimes parties are supposed to cooperate to do things such as sell a house after divorce, or transfer the title of a car.

How does a court order get enforced?

Sometimes it seem very mysterious to people how court orders get enforced.

But the reality is that court orders don’t do anything in themselves. Many people don’t follow court orders until they are forced to.

If you have a divorce or child custody court order that is not being followed, you should take action. And your first step should be to hire a divorce lawyer in Illinois.

When I help clients get court orders enforced, there are a number of tools at my disposal. Some of them include the following:

  • Informing: Sometimes simply informing the other party’s attorney that their client is not following the court order is enough.
  • Negotiating: Sometimes negotiating is appropriate. I can investigate whether a solution can be reached that does not involve litigation. Of course, I do not force a client to settle, but sometimes it makes sense to get what you want and to avoid the cost of litigation.
  • Going to court: If appropriate, we can go to court. The way a case gets back into court is often to file a motion which asks that the other party be held in contempt.

How long does it take to enforce an order?

Naturally, people want to know how long it takes to get the court to enforce an order. While the true answer may not be totally pleasing, the truth of the matter is that it depends.

Sometimes a person can get the court to order something right away because the matter is an emergency. For example, if someone’s health or life is at risk, or property might be damaged or lost. In such cases, it is possible to go to court and get a court order that day which will impose some sort of consequences on the other party. But one must be careful not to claim something is an emergency when it is not one. If a person files a something to get heard on an emergency basis, and the matter is not an emergency, the person who files it might end up having less credibility in the judge’s eyes.

When an emergency is not present, getting a court order enforced can take some time. That’s because there are certain procedures that need to be followed. For example, after what is needed to get he process started, the other party will have a chance to respond. Then, in some case, it is necessary to gather evidence and perhaps conduct a deposition – the amount of “discovery” necessary varies on a case-by-case basis. A hearing date will be set by the court – and that could be a month away from when it is set – or more (the courts are busy).

What can a judge do to enforce an order?

A judge has wide discretion to take action when someone is violating a court order. Here are just some of the things can do to help enforce a court order:

  • Jail: Put someone in jail
  • Fines: Fine a person
  • Attorney fees: Make the violator pay the attorney’s fees of the other person

How much will a lawyer cost?

Lawyers charge different fees depending upon the type of case, and who the lawyer is. As you may know, lawyers often charge a retainer and an hourly fee. The retainer is some amount of pre-paid legal fees.

In the case of trying to get a court order enforced, the good news is that – as mentioned above – the judge can force the other party to pay the court fees you incurred to get the order enforced. After all, why should you have to pay to make the other person what they were supposed to do anyway?

That being said, it is not guaranteed that the judge will make the other person pay your court fees.

Process to start enforcing a court order?

If you got divorce in Illinois, you may know that there is certain legal procedure to be followed.

Here is how I handle these types of case for my clients, generally speaking:

  1. Evaluate: I will review the court orders and interview the client about applicable facts
  2. Discuss options: I will tell my client what I think of the case, and outline the options
  3. Initial contact & negotiation: I make initial contact with the other party’s lawyer, and assess the possibility for settlement
  4. Going to court: If the case cannot be settled, I can take the case to a hearing and the judge can decide the case

If you need to get a divorce or child custody order enforced, you need an Illinois family law attorney to fight your case. If you want to see another lawyer’s take on handling problems that occur after a divorce has been finalized, check out this article on post-decree problems that can occur.

About the author: Attorney Rhonda Stuart has over 20 years’ experience handling complex divorce and family law matters for a diverse client base. Her client philosophy is settle if possible; litigate if necessary. All clients receive her personal attention.