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Is your ex in contempt of your divorce order?

When you go through a divorce, you can expect big changes in your life. Maybe this is your goal, or maybe divorce was never what you wanted. Unfortunately, there is often little you can do to stop the process if your spouse is determined to end the marriage.

At the end of the process, you will have a settlement or court order that describes what is expected of you in the years that follow. Whether the terms of your divorce seem agreeable or distasteful to you, both you and your ex are bound by law to abide by them. What can you do if your ex refuses to comply with the terms of your divorce?

Violating the terms of your divorce

If you and your spouse settled your divorce, you likely played a part in negotiating the terms. However, a court order comes from a Virginia judge, and you may have little control over it. If your spouse was unhappy with the way things turned out, you may be trying to get him or her to fulfill the divorce orders. Disobeying a court order is called contempt of court, and that can lead to serious consequences. Some common examples of contempt of court related to divorce include the following:

  • Your ex refuses to allow you access to your children despite the court’s schedule for custody.
  • Your ex allows someone else, such as a grandparent or new romantic interest, to have access to the children when your divorce order forbids any such contact.
  • Your ex will not turn over assets the court awarded to you during property division.
  • You cannot get your ex to make court-ordered alimony or child support payments.

Of course, if the court issued a restraining order or protective order, this means the court forbids your ex from having any contact with you. If you find that your ex has violated this order by calling, driving past your home or going to your child’s school, you would be wise to alert the police as well as your attorney, for this is a criminal form of contempt.

Most examples of contempt related to divorce orders are civil violations. In these cases, the judge’s first step may be to remind your ex of his or her responsibilities and grant time for your ex to comply. The next step may include more severe penalties. The court order in your divorce is not optional, so if your ex refuses to comply, you may need to take legal action to protect your rights.