Enforcement of Decrees

A divorce decree, sometimes called a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, is a court order which must be followed by both spouses. If one spouse or the other fails to act in accordance with the order, the other spouse may need to take steps to enforce the order.

Common ways of violating a decree include failure to pay child support or maintenance, fails to pay debts, failure to list the family home for sale, improper division of a retirement plan and failure to divide a retirement plan at all. The method of enforcement depends on what type of provision was violated. The first and most direct route is to ask the court that issued the decree to hold your spouse in contempt of court for failing to comply with the court's order.


If your former spouse or father/mother of you child fails to abide by the Judgment (e.g., failure to pay court-ordered child support, maintenance or other debts), he or she may be held in contempt of court for violating the divorce decree. In order to collect any past due amounts, you must motion the matter before the Court through contempt proceedings. Contempt proceedings can be designated as either civil or criminal, and further designated as direct or indirect contempt. Each missed child support payment is entitled to statutory interest. This is simple interest at the rate of 9% per year which starts to run with each payment that is missed.

Attorney's Fees

The law mandates the non-complying party to pay your attorney's fees if he/she is found in contempt or his/her non-payment is without compelling cause or justification.


If you child turns 18 years old or graduates high school (whichever is later), your child support obligation does not  automatically end.  You must first contact an attorney from Cartwright Law to determine whether your child is emancipated.  If the answer is in the affirmative, you must file the appropriate motion in court to terminate child support due to emancipation.  The Order must be modified and specifically state that the child support is terminated and when. 

Modification of Judgments

Child support, maintenance, and allocation of parental responsibilities (fka custody) are always modifiable if there has been a substantial change in circumstances after the Judgment has been entered.  The Judgment and/or Order must be modified in court and specifically state the change.  A written or verbal agreement does not suffice.  Contact an attorney from Cartwright Law to determine whether a modification is warranted.

Contact Cartwright Law to assist you today.

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