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Enforcing the Divorce Decree Through Contempt Proceedings in DuPage County

Naperville, IL Enforcement and Contempt Proceedings Attorneys

For a divorce decree to be effective, the ex-spouses must actively comply with its terms. Otherwise, the document is merely ink on paper. Typically, the parties voluntarily comply with court orders or a negotiated settlement. Sometimes, however, the judge must intervene. Although these enforcement disputes often have an emotional foundation, the proceeding is purely legal. The judges are not interested in sending a message to offending spouses or punishing them. Their only concerns are the best interests of the children and an equitable division of the marital estate.

At Pesce Law Group, P.C., we are dedicated to our clients, and we are willing to work as long as necessary to help ensure that your family's legal situation is as stable as possible. Although we always look for the most efficient answer, we are there for you, no matter how many court appearances are necessary.

Burden of Proof

In Illinois, a party can enforce a divorce or family law order through a contempt proceeding. It is much like any other similar civil procedure. To find the other party in contempt, the evidence must demonstrate that:

  • Court Order: There must be a valid temporary or permanent court order, and the judge must have jurisdiction over the parties. There is typically no statute of limitations; an order can be enforced tomorrow or ten years from now. If the order is too vague to be enforced, the offending party is normally excused for the violation, and the judge clarifies the language.
  • Violation: Technically, if one support payment is one day late, the spouse has disobeyed the court order. Pragmatically, however, most judges want to see either multiple violations or a repeated violation before they hold someone in contempt.
  • Aware and Able: Most all spouses sign the order being enforced, or they were in court when the judge issued it. Ability can be a defense in many cases; for example, an obligor may have been out of work.
  • Intentional Disobedience: If all other elements are established, it is very difficult for an offending party to convince anyone that their disobedience was accidental.

If the judge finds the offending spouse in contempt for a spousal support or child support obligation, wage garnishment is an appropriate remedy. For a non-support violation, such as withholding visitation, a judge may order a probated jail sentence and incarcerate the offending spouse if the misbehavior occurs again.

Type of Evidence

Keep a journal of all your interactions with a recalcitrant spouse. Witness testimony, especially from third parties like teachers or doctors, can be very compelling as well. For financial cases, paper copies of statements are better than computer downloads, because they are more authentic and easier for the judge to comprehend.

Enforcement is often a necessary part of a divorce procedure. For a free consultation with attorneys who stand up for your rights, contact Pesce Law Group, P.C. at 630-352-2240. Convenient payment plans are available.

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