FAQ: What are the Legal Ways to Enforce a Court Order in Orange County California?
What are the Legal Ways to Enforce a Court Order in California
When a court order is issued in California, the court has ordered a person either to take a certain action, or not to take a certain action. Family law related court orders can vary from ordering a child abuser to stay away from a child or ordering parents to spend certain amounts of time with their shared child to ordering one partner to pay spousal support or for a divorcing couple to split their assets a certain way.
All court orders have one thing in common: the parties to the order are required to follow the terms of the order, or face the consequences. This is one of the biggest benefits to having a court order instead of creating your own agreement - a court order can be legally enforced.
Depending on the type of court order you have, there are different ways that it can be enforced, but all court orders can be legally enforced in California.
How can I Enforce a Support Order in California
What is a Support Order?
Support orders in California can vary when it comes to who is responsible for paying support, and who will be receiving it. All support orders require one person to pay another person so that financial needs can be met.
Child support orders require one or both parents of a child to pay money to the child’s legal guardian, whether that is one of the parents, the state, or a temporary guardian, so that the child’s financial needs can be met.
Spousal support or partner support orders are usually issued during a divorce, legal separation, or as part of an order of protection. These are required so that a partner or spouse, or a former partner or spouse can move forward in his or her life safely and without financial worry. Spousal or partner support is intended to allow the supported party to maintain a standard of living similar to that, which was obtained during the marriage or registered domestic partnership.
Family support orders are a way to combine partner or spousal support with child support. These orders are issued during divorces or legal separations where the parent who usually has custody of the child or children is also receiving spousal or partner support.
In any of these cases, the paying party will be responsible for paying a certain amount of money, usually on a monthly basis.
What is a Wage Assignment?
All support orders in California are issued with a wage assignment, which is also called a wage assignment. This means that instead of paying the support payment every month, the payer’s employer is required to take the appropriate amount out of the employee’s paycheck and send it to the appropriate place before the employee receives his or her paycheck.
Enforcement of Support Orders in California
The first thing you should do if spousal, partner, family, or child support payments are not being made in full and on time is to write a letter and send it to the person who is responsible for making payments, whether it is your former spouse or partner, your current spouse or partner, or your child’s other parent.
There are several things to know about wage assignments and the enforcement of support orders:
• Wage assignments can be put aside, or stayed, when a support order is issued if both parties agree to it, and if the parties have an agreement as to how support will be paid without a wage garnishment. This is usually when issues arise.
• Wage assignments can be reinstated, especially if the person who owes support stops paying in full or on time. This is one of the best ways to enforce payment of a support order.
• If an employer refuses to comply with the terms of a wage assignment, he or she can be held liable for the support payments.
Refusing to comply with a wage assignment or to pay a support order can also be enforced through contempt of court.
Enforcing a Child Custody or Visitation Order in California
Child custody and visitation orders in California can be some of the most commonly violated family law orders, and yet they are usually the least enforced.
One of the best things you can do if you need to enforce a child custody order is to keep a detailed record of every violation of the order. If it comes to a trial, this will be some of the strongest evidence that you can present to the judge.
Regardless of what the other parent does or does not do, always be on time and ready for your child, follow the terms of the custody order to a T, and work with an attorney to make sure that you are always working towards the best interest of your child.
To enforce your custody order, take the following steps.
• First, contact your local law enforcement and have them enforce the custody order.
• If your child’s other parent still refuses to follow the terms of the court order, contact your local district attorney and have them enforce the order.
• Custody and visitation orders can be enforced through contempt of court.
If kidnapping is an issue, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. You may need to modify your existing court order, or, if kidnaping has already been an issue, the Hague Convention may be able to help.
Violation of a child custody order is usually not in the best interest of the child, and may have serious consequences, like the loss of custody or visitation rights. Always work with an attorney when it comes to enforcing a child custody order.
Child custody also accrues interest if payments are late or missed.
Enforcing a Property Division Order in California
When a couple divorces or gets a legal separation, there is usually a property division order included. This is a way for the court to decide how community property will be divided, and may order either party to care for property, sell property, give property to the other party, pay bills and debts, and more.
In the case that either party refuses to follow the terms of the court order, the other party has two main ways to enforce the property division order: through an injunction, or through contempt of court.
An injunction put simply, is an additional court order that requires the person who violated the property division order to do something or stop doing something. Failing to follow the orders of the injunction can lead to additional consequences.
The other option for enforcing a property division order is to file an action for contempt of court.
Contempt of Court in California
Filing a contempt action for the violation of a court order is usually one of the last things that are done when enforcing a court order related to family law.
If you wish to file a contempt action, it is likely that you will need the assistance of a legal professional, because the burden of proof will fall on you. You will need to show the following three things:
- You will need to prove that a court order exists. The court order that has been violated needs to exist, and it needs to be a valid and legal court order that is currently in place and has been signed by a judge.
- You will need to prove that the person you are accusing of contempt was aware of the court order. You may be able to do this by showing that the terms of the court order were followed for a time, or you may show that the court order was served on the other party, and the proof of service was filed with the court. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of all paperwork, although you may go to the court and request copies of paperwork that is on file in some cases.
- You will need to prove that the person you are accusing of contempt has willfully disobeyed the terms of the court order. In some cases, the inability to pay a child support order may mean that your contempt action fails. However, choosing to go on vacation or to pay other bills instead of paying support payments is proof of intentionally avoiding payments.
If convicted of contempt, the offending party may face fines, jail time, and the loss of custody or additional payments.
Orange County Enforcement of Court Orders Attorneys
If you have questions about enforcing a court order in California, contact an attorney to discuss the best options for your situation. At Yanez & Associates, we offer free initial consultations. Contact us today to schedule yours!
Table of Contents
- 1 What are the Legal Ways to Enforce a Court Order in California
- 2 How can I Enforce a Support Order in California
- 3 Enforcing a Child Custody or Visitation Order in California
- 4 Enforcing a Property Division Order in California
- 5 Contempt of Court in California
- 6 Orange County Enforcement of Court Orders Attorneys