In the series "Enforcing Divorce Orders in New York", I was able to provide a pretty thorough breakdown of each critical aspect of how you can get a temporary order or divorce agreement enforced by the Court. While it is ideal to learn and review everything in full, you might not have the time right now for four blogs' worth of light reading. If that is the case, here's a fast rundown of what you missed and a couple questions that you might have found unanswered:
- Introduction to temporary orders [[each title in this numbered list will be a hyperlink to the corresponding blog]]: While your divorce is being finalized, your New York divorce court can create temporary orders that mandate you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse to behave in certain ways. Although something that is temporary might not seem all that important, failing to abide by these orders can constitute a serious violation, one that requires a court order to enforce and correct.
- Reasons to take action: Why might you need to create an Order to Show Cause? Well, if your spouse has clearly been violating temporary orders with deliberate or malicious intent, the Court needs to know about it. And they will probably do something to stop them. If the violations were occurring out of forgetfulness, or rarely occurred, you might not have a reason to take any legal action at all.
- Order components: Every good Order to Show Cause is constructed of strong, useful components. You'll need the order itself, some witness testimonies called affidavits, and some actual physical evidence, called exhibits, of the wrongdoing. Piecing this together can be tricky if you aren't familiar with the law, and this is the step where most people hire a divorce lawyer.
- Now you can take action: The final part of getting a divorce order enforced is actually taking the matter to court. A judge will review your Order to Show Cause and either sign it, revise and sign it, or refuse to sign it, depending on how well-drafted it was. With any luck, yours will be signed and your ex-spouse will have to abide strictly to the Court's orders, or face predetermined consequences.
How Much Does it Cost to Enforce an Order?
As you can see, it is no small task to enforce an order during a divorce. It takes many hours of attorney time, and consequently, a considerable sum of money on the part of the person seeking to enforce the order. Filing fees, process server fees, and attorney fees can often run to $2,000.00+ if an entire hearing is run. It is not an inexpensive undertaking. While the Court has the ability to direct the violator to pay the attorney's fees and expenses of the party seeking enforcement, my experience is that the Court rarely does so.
How Long Does Enforcement Take?
The entire enforcement process can often take 3-4 months. The attorney and client must carefully consider whether or not it is worth going through all this time, effort, and money before starting down the path of enforcement.
What's the Worst That Can Happen Upon Enforcement?
It is rare that a court will throw the offending party in jail. Personally, in my 11 years of practicing solely in matrimonial and family law, I can remember one instance of a court ordering jail time, and that was after several enforcement motions. The more likely outcome is the Court will read the riot act to the "evil-doer" and say "Now don't let this happen again, and I really mean it this time. Next time, maybe the Court will consider some jail time for you."
While this is far and away the most typical outcome, it is not to say that a court will not take drastic action under the appropriate circumstances. But often a client will perceive an incident to be something far more serious than the Court will perceive it to be.
Move Forward Today with an Experienced Lawyer
It is vital that you have a knowledgeable divorce attorney at your side should you seek to enforce the terms of a temporary order during a divorce proceeding. An experienced family law attorney can answer all your questions, provide you with the likely outcomes, and help you to decide if it is appropriate to start enforcement proceedings, or if it is more practical to address the issue in other ways.
Contact my firmtoday to speak with a Buffalo family lawyer about your case.