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Don’t risk contempt of court by violating divorce-related orders

Divorces aren’t necessarily over once all the agreements are finalized. These documents are signed by a judge and are, therefore, court orders. Any signatories to those orders are required to abide by them or risk being in contempt of court.

Following are the most common areas where divorced people are held in contempt of court:

Financial/property matters

These can involve spousal or child support. You need to abide by the order(s) to pay this support. If there’s a reason why you can’t or don’t believe that you should have to pay it on time and in full as detailed in the order, you need to notify the court. Don’t just stop paying because circumstances have changed, even if your ex agrees.

Financial contempt of court issues can also involve property division. If you were ordered to turn over assets such as a home or other property or money to your spouse, you must abide by that order within the timeframe designated.

Child custody

Judges take custody orders seriously. If you’re not abiding by the order — particularly if you are preventing your co-parent from enjoying the custody or visitation rights they were granted, this is considered custodial interference and contempt of court. If you violate your child custody order, you could find yourself losing the rights you currently have.

Protective/restraining orders

Unfortunately, these are a part of some contentious divorces. Judges don’t issue them without good reason. Whether you believe a protective order keeping you away from your spouse or children is fair or not, it’s essential that you abide by it. You could find yourself in serious trouble if you don’t.

The good news is that in most cases, at least in the first two situations discussed above, judges will allow you the opportunity to take steps to rectify the situation before finding you in contempt of court. It’s essential that you talk with your family law attorney if you’re accused of violating any of your divorce-related court orders. If you believe an order needs to be modified, don’t take matters into your own hands. Your attorney can help you make that case to the court and help you avoid legal jeopardy.