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Enforcement of Court Order


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Enforcing an Order in Arizona

Once orders have been entered by the court, whether pursuant to an agreement or after a hearing, both parties are required to follow the orders. Unfortunately, parties do not always comply with orders in a timely manner and you may have to seek court assistance in enforcing the orders. Not only is it frustrating to have to seek enforcement, but the party’s failure to obey an order can deprive you or your children of necessary financial support.

Examples of situations where you may need to enforce an order:

    • Parent fails to pay child support or uncovered medical expenses
    • Spouse fails to pay spousal maintenance
    • Spouse fails to transfer assets or assume debt
    • Parent Does Not Follow the Parenting Time Schedule
    • Parent makes unilateral decision when joint custody

Before filing a Petition to Enforce, it is advisable to inform the other party in writing that they are not complying with the order of the court. Include or quote the specific order that they are not obeying and demand compliance by a certain date. Such action may get them to comply, but even if it does not, it is evidence of your good-faith attempt at resolving the issue prior to seeking court action.

How Does the Court Enforce Orders?

If you are required to file an enforcement action, there are many recourses and remedies that you can seek from the court to ensure that the other party complies. If the other parent is not paying child support, you can seek arrears, a judgment that can be collected by garnishing of wages, referral to accountability court, or even request that the parent be thrown in jail.

If a parent is not complying with a parenting time or custody order, the courts can change the custody and parenting time orders to give you sole custody or the court can restrict the other parent’s parenting time. Occasionally, the police will need to be involved to enforce a parenting time plan and ensure that the children are returned safely to the other parent at the ordered time.

Contempt of Court

If a party deliberately and without good reason fails too obey an order of the court, you may be able to request that the party be found in Contempt of Court. To be found in contempt, you must prove that the other party:

    • Knew the order existed;
    • Had the ability to comply with the order but violated the conditions knowingly;
    • Lacks just cause or excuse for the violation.

Being found in contempt can include both civil and criminal penalties. These can include monetary fines, paying the other party’s attorney fees and costs, or even incarceration.

Enforcement Through the Department of Child Support Services

If you or your child receives public assistance, you can seek the assistance from the Arizona Department of Child Support Services for free to help enforce a child support order. If you or your child are not receiving public assistance, you will can still apply for DCSS services for a fee. The DCSS has various child support enforcement methods including property liens, asset seizures, and arrest warrants. More information can be found here.

Get Help Enforcing your Order from an Arizona Family Law Lawyer

Enforcing a court order or proving contempt of court in Arizona is not easy. Luckily, if you are forced to file an enforcement action, the court can award you attorney’s fees as a sanction against the disobedient party.  If you are interested in more information about enforcement and contempt proceedings in Arizona, contact the Law Office of Austin White at (480) 788-0633, or click here to schedule your free consultation.