Failure of a parent to abide by a family law order is one of the most common dilemmas faced by family lawyers in the Phoenix area. If you have already gone through a divorce and have decided on the custody and parenting time parameters for your children, the next step is making sure those agreements are followed. However, you cannot just take matters into your own hands. The State of Arizona requires you to follow proper procedures when enforcing court orders and custody or visitation plans. It is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family attorney before taking any action.
There are countless ways that there could be a violation of a court order in family law proceedings. Some examples include:
- Repeated failure to drop the child off on time
- Failure to pay court mandated child or spousal support
- Leaving the state with your child without permission
- Stopping by your home, making telephone calls to you, sending texts or emails or any other form of contact that has been prohibited by an Order of Protection or an Injunction Against Harassment
Your attorney will have numerous tools at their disposal to get your rights back and force the other person to follow the rules they agreed to. Some of these legal mechanisms are:
- Civil fines for not following an order of the court and being in contempt
- Issuing a warrant for arrest if the contempt charges are particularly serious
- Allowing you extra time with your children to make up for time lost when the other parent wrongfully prevented your parenting time
- Court ordered mediation between you and the other parent or parental education classes for the offending parent
- Garnishment of wages or seizures of assets for child support violations
- Revocation of the offending parent’s drivers license for failing to pay child support
All of these methods provide a strong incentive for the other spouse to follow the agreed upon framework. In some cases, it may make sense for you to work with the other spouse and your attorney to modify the court order if it is no longer practical. If it is too difficult to enforce, it may make sense to change to the agreement. Only a qualified family attorney in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area can help you craft the best guidelines for your particular case.
I would highly recommend Judd Nemiro to anyone needing a good attorney to represent them. He is very smart, diligent and strategic with his writing and actions.
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I just moved to Arizona. Can I enforce an out-of-state custody or visitation order?
Yes, courts in Arizona must enforce orders issued by courts in other states. Arizona courts are permitted to use any means allowed by Arizona law to compel compliance even if an Arizona judge did not issue the order. These remedies could include any of those listed above. Conversely, if your ex-spouse has left the state of Arizona with your child or is living in another state and refusing to provide child or spousal support, your attorney can work with the courts in the other state to enforce Arizona’s court order. Like a sister state judgment, your attorney can file the Arizona family order with the local Superior Court and seek to have it enforced by the local authorities.
- It is important to realize that even though Arizona can enforce the agreement through a temporary order, Arizona may lack jurisdiction to modify the other state’s order. The purpose of the temporary order is to maintain the status quo while giving the parties either: enough time to seek a modification from the original issuing jurisdiction or until the time limit for the other state’s order lapses. At that point, you may seek a new order from the Arizona court by filing paperwork appropriate to Arizona’s family law system.
In some cases, it is also possible to enforce state orders at the federal level by garnishing tax returns and federal benefits to satisfy child and spousal support order issued in Arizona. This process is quite complicated and a family lawyer’s experience would be invaluable if you are forced to pursue these remedies.
How do I enforce a spousal support order?
Like child support, if you have an order for spousal support and your ex-spouse is refusing to pay, you have a legal right to pursue those funds. The most important thing to realize is the time limitation placed on actions to recover unpaid spousal support. There is a statute of limitations placed on spousal support claims and you must file for an order to enforce payment within three years of the expiration of the original order. It can take a significant amount of time for your attorney to track down your ex-spouse’s assets and it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel quickly if violation of a spousal support order is occurring.
Like child support enforcement, your attorney may be able to seek fulfillment of spousal support obligations by:
- Garnishing wages
- Levying bank accounts
- Seizing assets or attaching liens to personal and real property
Can I be arrested for failure to pay child support?
One mechanism the court has to enforce child support obligations is issuing a “child support arrest warrant”. Most people will comply with the court’s order prior to actually being arrested, but it does happen. If you have received multiple warnings regarding child support arrearages, you need to contact a family law attorney immediately. It may be possible to negotiate a settlement agreement with the Department of Child Support Services whereby: levies and garnishments on wages and income tax returns are stopped, drivers license privileges are reinstated, and you become current on child support obligations.
There are numerous types of family law order and in many cases you will be dealing with overlapping issues. It is understandable that you will be stressed and confused. You don’t have to face the courts and your ex-spouse alone. Whether you are receiving support or are obligated to pay it, you have rights. Attorney Judd Nemiro stands ready to fight for you and secure the resources that you and your children deserve.