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Enforcing Prior Orders and Jail Time

Before we get into this subject there is one important rule to remember:  Child support and visitation rights are not tied to one another.  If you are not receiving child support from your ex you do not have the right to keep the child from him or her.  If you are not being permitted to see the child, you do not have the right to stop paying child support.  This is clearly a time the adage "two wrongs don’t make a right" applies.

A party that fails to follow a court order is in contempt of court; thus, an effective tool for forcing compliance with the court’s orders is to file a Petition for Enforcement and Contempt.  Of course, judges like that their orders are followed, because in reality this is where a judge’s power truly rests--in her ability to tell you what to do or not do and the ability to fine and/or incarcerate you if you fail to follow the judge’s orders.  The court’s power permits it to impose a fine of up to $500 per violation and up to 6 months in jail for each violation.

Hopefully by now we have been able to adequately emphasize the importance of contempt actions as either a tool that you want to use to force compliance or as a mechanism to deprive your liberty that you want to defend against.  Due to the specific requirements of contempt actions in either prosecuting or defending and the risk involved, it is our suggestion that you seek counsel, especially if you have been served with a contempt action that you are required to defend against.