Contempt and Enforcement of Family Law Orders

Helping Clients Enforce Massachusetts Family Court Orders

When any temporary order or final judgment of divorce is signed by a Massachusetts family court judge, it becomes enforceable. That means that one of the parties can seek the court's help if the other party does not follow the order. This is done when the innocent party takes the affirmative step of filing a complaint for contempt. Essentially, one party is saying that the other party is in contempt of court because the order was not followed and is asking the court to force the other party to comply.

What Is Contempt?

To be held in contempt, there must be a finding that an enforceable order exists, that one of the parties has violated or failed to comply with the order, and that the person charged with contempt had the ability and means to comply. The offender can be ordered to cooperate, face incarceration and pay the innocent party's attorney's fees.

At Pollack Law Group, P.C. (PLG), our family law attorneys help clients enforce court orders involving visitation, child custody and alimony/spousal support. You have the right to seek collections and enforcement measures through the courts. Start by talking to an attorney at PLG. Call 800-299-DIVORCE (800-299-3486) or contact us online for a free consultation. We aggressively pursue enforcement actions.

Once an Agreement Becomes a Court Order, Only a Court Can Change It

When the judge incorporates an agreement and makes it an order, parties cannot decide whether they want to follow the letter of the law. For example, even if one party doesn't like how the other party is spending the child support money, the paying party cannot choose to stop or change the amount of the monthly payments. The only way to legally change the amount of child support is to file a petition to change or modify the original child support order.

Tools Available to Enforce Massachusetts Child Support and Custody Orders

Depending on the type of order you are enforcing, tools available include:

Violations of alimony orders: Orders to pay spousal support have the same force as any other court order and, if handled properly, can be enforced with the very real possibility of obtaining regular payments. If necessary, a court may jail a reluctant payer to show that it means business.

Violations of child support orders: Nonpayment of child support is a serious national problem. No different from alimony enforcement, child support enforcement actions may result in incarceration, wage garnishment and other penalties.

Violations of child custody orders: Parents who do not follow the requirements of child custody orders or parenting plan schedules face significant penalties. If one parent removes the child from the original jurisdiction without court approval, he or she could face federal kidnapping charges. This is extreme, but it's important to know that courts and judges take violations of child custody and visitation orders very seriously. Additionally, if the Department of Revenue becomes involved in an enforcement case, it may prosecute deadbeat parents and ex-spouses by using tools such as wage garnishment, driver's license suspension, tax refund interception and other punishments.

Violation of property division orders: If your spouse refuses to transfer some item assigned to you by court order, you can file a Complaint for Contempt to force the transfer. The court may order your spouse be sent to jail until he or she hands over the property involved.

The Importance of Taking Action

In most cases, simply taking the preliminary steps toward enforcing your order can prevent a bad situation from getting worse. The worst thing you can do is endure unnecessary misery for months without taking any action. This could involve a mother having children live in poverty because support isn't being paid, or a dad having his heart broken because he isn't able to see his children, or a great offer to purchase the marital home collapses because one spouse won't sign the necessary papers. The longer you wait to have court orders enforced, the longer you will be exposed to financial loss and other consequences.

Are You Facing Issues of Contempt and Enforcement of Family Law Orders?

PLG lawyers also represent parties who have been accused of contempt of court orders. If you have been charged or threatened, don't wait to see what will happen next. Once charged, you face a criminal offense. Even paying your obligation won't make it go away. Talk to one of our attorneys to get sound advice and representation throughout the process.

Contact Us for Information About Contempt and Support Enforcement in Massachusetts

Our law firm serves clients throughout the state from conveniently located offices and conference centers from Cape Cod to Pittsfield. Call us at 800-299-DIVORCE (800-299-3486) or contact us online to learn how we can help you with any enforcement or contempt matter. We provide a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Massachusetts family law attorney and offer appointments to fit your schedule — early mornings, evenings or weekends.