Enforcing a Divorce Decree
Getting a divorce decree is only one of the first steps of life after divorce. However, a properly drafted and well-executed divorce decree is crucial to the long-term relationship between former spouses and children. The divorce decree is the backbone on which parental rights and obligations depend.
Take a divorce in which the parties settled before trial, for example. In these types of divorces, a properly executed decree will incorporate a marital settlement agreement that specifies spousal support obligations, as well as division of personal and real property. If there are children involved, the decree will also contain a joint parenting agreement that details who has custody, visitation and other child-related obligations.
These two documents serve as an important guide for the parties during divorce. More importantly, they allow a party to seek the court’s help if the other party does not play by the rules. If the husband, for example, violates the divorce decree by not following the visitation schedule or failing to make child support payments, the mother may file a petition for a Rule to Show Cause. This means that the aggrieved party is asking the court to force the other party to comply with the decree.
In Kane County, the petition for Rule to Show Cause must state specifically what provisions of the decree are in question and how the other party violated them. In addition, the petition must be served on the other party. If the other party files an answer, the judge will consider the merits of the petition, and it may order the other party to prove why it should not be held in contempt for violating the divorce decree.
Being held in contempt is a serious matter, and it may result in stiff fines and even jail time. Often parties violate a court order without intending to do so. No matter the reason, an experienced Geneva family law attorney can avoid many of these issues.