Monday, February 19, 2007

Enforcing the Decree: Generally

If the court orders something done by either party and it is not done, you need to know that the court does not keeps tabs on us or take steps itself to enforce its order. The parties enforce the court’s orders. There are several tools for enforcing the court’s orders:

1. Contempt of court.
2. Income withholding orders or wage assignments for support.
3. A bond to secure custody or parenting time.
4. Garnishment
5. Any other method that might be used to collect any other judgment - of which there are many but these depend on the facts of the case.
If you do not obey the court’s order, then you can expect any of these being used against you. If the other side does not obey the court’s order, you must let me know.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading each one of your legal options for "Enforcing the Decree”. However, let's pretend the Decree was designed not to be enforced and the Judge was fully aware that it couldn’t be enforced. Let’s also add it has been over three years since said Decree was filed. What is the option in this case, especially if the person left ‘holding the proverbial bag’, is nearly destitute and cannot afford an attorney? Please do not say Legal Aid as this is too simple and has been tried several times. A very long story. John Grisham would like the rights to this one. Oh and btw, thanks for your column. It is great and I know very helpful to those that are lucky enough to be in ‘real court’.

Sam Hasler said...

I am going to sidestep my disclaimer a bit. Your post is a very good reason why this blog is not about answering specific legal issues: not enough facts for a good discussion; no idea if the case is actually in Indiana or not and so what law applies, no idea what you mean by unenforceable. AS for attorney fees, you might read what I have written under the topic of attorney fees. If you are indigent, the court could appoint a lawyer for you.

Short answer to the commentor: Nothing can be done - too late to appeal, no idea if the problem is support, parenting time or custody and so subject to modification.

Back to the broader subject of the original post: A Decree is an order from the court, the willful and intentional disobedience of that order results in contempt. For an Order to be unenforceable there has to be one of the following: 1) a superior law supersedes the Decree (bankruptcy law can do this), 2) the facts are such that there could not be a willful disobedience of the court's order, or 3) the subject of the order had already changed before the order was entered.