ENFORCEMENT OF COURT ORDERS
Quite frequently, the Court will make an appropriate order and one party or the other will fail to comply with its terms. By statute, the Family Court has the authority to enforce its own orders. However, in requesting enforcement, the client must present to the Court a viable means by which enforcement can be accomplished. Enforcement of court orders may involve any or all of the following:
- Payment of monies for child support, spousal support or property division
- Compliance with non-monetary division or transfer of assets (e.g., sale of real estate or turnover of personal property)
- Specific provisions regarding child sharing
Enforceable Money Judgments
Family law judgments for support and/or other payments clearly specified are considered money judgments enforceable like any other civil judgment. Orders for the payment of money generally accrue interest at the legal rate (currently 10%). A Writ of Execution may be obtained to have the Sheriff levy a bank account, wages or other tangible asset to satisfy the judgment. Even a residence may be subject to this type of enforcement, upon obtaining a proper court order.
If the client is unaware of the location of any assets upon which a levy may be accomplished, a judgment debtor’s examination may be scheduled. In this procedure, the debtor/spouse is required to appear at court and answer questions under oath about the location of assets or income. As part of this proceeding, the debtor/spouse may be required to produce documentation verifying assets that currently exist.
If one party has refused to sign documents that are required by the Court to effectuate a division of assets, upon proper application, the Judge may order the Clerk of the Court sign on behalf of the non-complying party. For example, if the divorce judgment provides for the sale of real property, the Clerk of the Court can be appointed to sign a Deed on behalf of the party who refuses to sign.
Enforcement of Court Orders During Divorce
While a dissolution action is pending, one party may fail to comply with court orders for discovery (i.e., production of information or documents). Upon proper motion, the court can make additional orders to sanction the non-complying party, such as limiting evidence they may be allowed to introduce at a future hearing or trial. If one party fails to provide the mandatory Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure (a set of documents identifying all assets, debts, income, expenses, tax returns, business opportunities, etc.) within the time required by law, a motion may be brought to compel this disclosure and for monetary sanctions against the offending party.
If a party fails to pay support in a timely fashion and a motion is required to enforce a support order, the Court is required to make the non-complying party pay attorney’s fees incurred for enforcement purposes. In an extreme case, a contempt of court action can be used to obtain a punishment or sanction against the offending party.
The Law Offices of Beatrice L. Snider, APC has significant experience with all types of enforcement mechanisms, including those listed above. Call (888) 860-8544 or fill out a contact form to reach the firm’s knowledgeable San Diego divorce and family law attorneys.