Enforcement of Judgments
After issues are finalized in a divorce, we always hope that both parties follow the terms of those agreements—but unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. When this happens, it may be necessary to bring an action against your spouse to compel him or her to comply with your agreement or the court’s decision. This action is called an enforcement of judgment.
Domestic relations courts in Illinois have the legal authority to enforce their own judgments and orders. This gives you and your spouse protection both during and after a case. Failure to comply with a court order may place the other party in contempt of court, which is punishable by fees, sanctions and possibly jail.
When one person won’t comply with what has been decided during a divorce, it can be incredibly frustrating. At the Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern in Evanston and Chicago, you can be confident that we will work to ensure that the issue is resolved and enforced as quickly as possible.
How is a judgment enforced?
In Illinois, enforcement actions after a divorce must clearly outline:
- The obligation the spouse had — This can be anything from making a child support payment to taking a specific action, like listing property for sale or assisting with childcare. It’s important that the obligation be clearly defined and supported by a prior court order. After all: if it wasn’t ordered, it can’t be enforced.
- That the obligation wasn’t complied with — Once it’s established that a spouse had an obligation, it must be shown or alleged that the obligation wasn’t met. You can’t enforce an order that was already complied with.
- That the party had the ability to comply — For instance, if a parent had an obligation to pay child support and failed to, did he or she have the money to make the payment?
- That the failure to comply was willful — This goes hand-in-hand with the prior point. If a spouse had the ability to comply and chose not to, his or her violation is willful and contemptuous of the court’s order.
If someone is found to have willfully violated a court’s order, he or she may be held in contempt of court. A finding of contempt permits the petitioning party to recover his or her attorneys’ fees. Likewise, an Evanston or Chicago court may sanction the offending party and, if needed, hold that person in jail.
What do I need to bring to my family law attorney for an enforcement action?
The two most important things to provide to your divorce lawyer are:
- The underlying judgment that has been violated
- Documentation proving the violation
For instance, if a parent is obligated to repay the other for a child’s medical expense within 14 days of receiving the receipt, then it is important to provide proof that the receipt was sent and that a request for payment was made. Likewise, communication between the parents regarding the expense will flesh out the allegation and may show that the lack of payment was willful.
Contact an Evanston Family Law Firm
You do not need to contact your original family law attorney to bring an enforcement action. Don’t hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Joshua E. Stern in Evanston and Chicago at (847) 868-9584 with any questions you may have regarding the enforcement of judgments. We are committed to guiding you through the process and happy to provide a free consultation to discuss your case.