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Post-Judgment Enforcement of Orders and Decrees

POST-JUDGMENT ISSUES IN FAMILY LAW AND PROBATE – Enforcement of Family Law Court Orders and Judgments

When the Probate Court in a family law case enters an order, decree or judgment the rulings are expected to be followed.  When parties to a divorce, child custody, separate support, domestic abuse and other family law matter do not follow the court’s orders, there are mechanisms available to the aggrieved party to seek enforcement of the judgment terms.

Typically, when a party fails to follow orders they are subject to the court sanctioning them by ordering them to pay a financial penalty, they are subject to contempt proceedings which may carry financial penalties as well as jail time, and they are subject to seizing of his or her assets to secure payment of financial obligations, for example.

Enforcement usually occurs by the party not in violation of the family law order filing a motion with the court.  The compliant party usually files a request for hearing motion and sets forth in an affidavit the relief being requested.  The court clerk then sets a hearing and the non-compliant party is served with the moving papers and has a chance to respond.  (Be careful!  There are strict rules requiring timely filing and service of papers for both parties!)  There are a variety of issues that may be addressed in such a motion, including for example:

  • Failure to pay child support or spousal support (alimony);
  • Failure to abide by child custody and visitation orders (i.e. custodial orders);
  • Failure to secure support;
  • Failure to provide property to the other spouse after a divorce trial;
  • Failure to secure life insurance;
  • Failure to abide by domestic abuse injunction orders (temporary or permanent);
  • Failure to pay attorney fees when after being ordered to do so; and
  • Failure to abide by discovery orders and judgments (e.g. orders to supply documents).

The non-compliant party must show that they are compliant or reasons why they are not compliant to avoid receiving a very unfavorable result at the hearing.  Enforcement of orders and judgments should be handled with caution and expertise.  To schedule a free, initial consultation to discuss your options with our attorneys that specialize in family law only, call or email us immediately.

Our firm serves Boston as well as all courts in Bristol County, including the New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton courthouses.  We also serve all courts in Plymouth County including the Family and Probate Courthouses in Plymouth and Brockton.

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