Divorce FAQ's

Enforcing Court Orders

I have a court order that compels my husband to pay me $2,500 in child support arrears, and to also pay for $500 in past due medical expenses for our kids. He refuses to comply with the court order! I want to jump off the empire state building because I am so frustrated. What can I do to make this deadbeat pay?

Unfortunately, obtaining a court order in New Jersey does not always  mean that your ex-husband will comply with the terms of it. Basically, simply having a court order that compels that payment of support arrears does not translate into that you will be immediately paid for any support arrears by your deadbeat ex- spouse. You can’t take your court order to a local bank and cash it. I wish it could be that simple, but it is not. All too often, child support and alimony obligations are blown off and the ex-husband accrues a large amount of arrears.  After a divorce many husbands find that it is virtually impossible to maintain two separate residences especially in this recession. Thus, many non-custodial parents make a child support here, and an alimony payment there, but they are always behind. On the flip side, many custodial parents are very lax in their compliance with visitation orders. Many non-custodial parents withhold visitation until the custodial parent pays any retro child support and alimony.

These types of scenarios are very common in the world of family law. My major criticism with the family courts is that I sincerely believe that they do not do enough to enforce their court orders. The family court system can be very inefficient. It is not uncommon for one party to have to file several enforcement motions to try to collect back child support, back alimony, compel the payment of medical expenses, or for other relief. A family court issues orders all of the time. However, the family courts simply does not do enough to ensure that the terms of their court orders are enforced. The family courts are overwhelmed and they are understaffed. Moreover, in my opinion the status of New Jersey law permits the litigant with the legal right to file too many reconsideration motions and too many motions for a reduction based upon a “change of circumstances.” There just does not seem to be any type of finality to any of the family court’s rulings. In my assessment the family courts are swamped and they should do more to try to enforce their court orders.

Therefore, if you want to have a court order enforced then it is often up to you to try to enforce it.  If your ex-spouse is not complying with the terms of a court order, then you must file a motion to enforce litigant’s rights if there are still outstanding child support or alimony arrears. Meanwhile, if there are visitation and parenting disputes then you must file a motion to compel visitation or parenting time. You can always file these type of enforcement motions on a pro se basis. However, it is always advisable to obtain legal counsel if you have the means to. The New Jersey family court system is often a confusing maze, with tons of rules, and new forms are being created all of the time. A family court can also deny your motion on technical or procedural grounds if all of the legal requirements of the New Jersey Court Rules are not met. Therefore, only an experienced divorce attorney will know these requirements, and ensure that you file a detailed and “winning” motion. Additionally, if the judge ultimately decides in your favor, and if the judge finds that the the other party is not complying with a previous court order, then he or she may award you counsel fees if you have an attorney, and may even impose sanctions.

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