Seeking the Enforcement of a Family Court Order
The Contempt Powers of the Family Court
The family courts of South Carolina have the authority to enforce the terms of a prior order. If an individual is subject to a family court order that requires him or her to do something, and they refuse to do what is required of them, then they could be held in contempt for their refusal. The family court's ability to enforce the terms of its prior orders carries with it the contempt powers of the court, as set forth in S.C. Code Ann. § 63-3-620. As the statute makes clear, if the family court determines that an individual has willfully refused to comply with the court's order and that individual is found in contempt of court, they could face sanctions including jail for up to one year, a fine of up to $1,500, and community service up to 300 hours --- or a combination of all three contempt sanctions. In addition to the potential sanctions available through the court's contempt powers, the family court "may award other appropriate relief properly requested by a party to the proceeding." This includes reimbursement of the moving party's attorney's fees and costs incurred to enforce the court's prior order, which is commonly referred to as compensatory contempt damages.
Child Support is Not Being Provided as Ordered
If the non-custodial parent is required to provide child support but they simply won't, you should discuss your situation with an experienced family court attorney. How long has the non-custodial parent avoided their court ordered obligation to provide child support? A child has the right to receive financial support from both parents. If you believe that the non-custodial parent of your child or children is intentionally avoiding their obligation to provide court ordered child support, then call my office today.
Custodial Parent is Preventing Visitation
If you have a schedule of visitation set forth in a family court order, but the primary custodial parent is preventing you from exercising that right, then you should seek enforcement of that prior order. This is particularly true when there is clear evidence of ill intent, and willful disregard for the non-custodial parent's right to visitation; and, therefore, a willful disregard of the terms of the prior order of the family court. It's important for non-custodial parents to be aware that if the family court finds that the custodial parent has willfully disregarded the terms of the prior order, there are additional remedies (in addition to the remedies set forth in the contempt powers ¶ above) available to the family court under those types of enforcement proceedings if requested in the petition seeking enforcement or at the hearing. The family court could modify the terms of visitation set forth in the prior order if it finds it would be in the child's best interest.
Still Owed a Portion of the Marital Estate
A decree of divorce was entered, and "Former Spouse 1" was required to provide 50% of a specified retirement account to "Former Spouse 2" within 30 days of the order being filed. It's now more than 6 months since the order was entered and those funds have still not been provided. Or, as another example, "Former Spouse 1" was awarded the former marital residence in the divorce. At the time the divorce decree was entered (or entry of a decree of separate maintenance and support, if that occurred prior to the divorce) the former marital residence was still mortgaged, and the mortgage was still in the name of "Former Spouse 2". "Former Spouse 1" was given 60 days to secure their own financing for the home in order to remove "Former Spouse 2" from any further liability on the home. A year has now gone by, and the home's mortgage has remained unaltered.
These examples are not uncommon issues that require additional attention after the separation and divorce litigation has ended. These are issues that must be resolved in order to secure the intended purpose of the family court's order. The family court can enforce the terms of its prior order, and an experienced family law attorney can help you accomplish that goal. If you have reached your limit with the delays and excuses your ex-spouse has been giving you, then call my office today.
Find the Motivation: Uphold Your Rights and Their Obligations
The family court is not a policing agency. The court can only address issues if they are presented to the court. If you allow your former spouse, or your child's other parent to continue to operate under their own rules, then that is what they will continue to do. If you are ready to assert your rights and their obligations under the terms of the prior order, then give my office a call today.