At the resolution of any divorce, child support or visitation proceedings, the hope is that both parties will honor their agreed upon or court ordered obligations when it comes to child or spousal support and visitation or custody. In cases where one party does not comply, the legal recourse is for the complaining spouse to initiate enforcement and contempt proceedings in a Florida Court.
A qualified Florida attorney, such as those from the Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A., can guide you in all stages of your Florida enforcement and contempt proceeding. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation. In the meantime, here are some of the steps you may need to take in order to enforce your rights.
Serving the Other Party
Under Florida law, the mechanism by which you will be seeking enforcement of any obligation is called a Motion for Civil Contempt/Enforcement. This motion must be filed with the court that has jurisdiction over your support or custody case. Near the same time this motion is filed, the counterparty, or the party you are claiming is failing in their obligations, must be personally served with a copy of the motion. This puts them on notice that a proceeding has been instituted.
Scheduling a Hearing and Notice Requirement
After your Motion for Civil Contempt/Enforcement in Florida has been filed, the court will schedule a hearing. At this hearing, the complaining party will present their evidence and make their argument regarding why they believe the other party has not met their obligation. The petitioning/complaining party is responsible for providing the respondent with notice of the time, date and place of this hearing.
Burden of Proof
At the hearing, the burden of proof will be on the petitioning party to prove that the respondent has not met their obligations. It's important to note that either party to a divorce or child support or visitation agreement may file a motion. Motions may be filed for the supporting party failing to make payments. The supporting party may also file a motion if, for example, they are not being allowed their appropriate visitation.
In either case, it will be the party making the motion's job to present evidence that demonstrates to the judge that the other party is in violation of the support, visitation or custody agreement. It is important as the petitioning or responding party that you collect all of your documentation to present at the hearing, including proof of past payments, visitations and affidavits from any other relevant parties. A lawyer experienced in Florida enforcement and contempt proceedings can assist you with a list of the relevant documents in your particular case.
Once a judge has found a party in contempt of their obligation, there are several remedies they may order in order to force the other party to comply. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Establishment of Payment Plan
- Liens on Vehicles or Other Property
- Garnishment of Wages
- Direct Interception of Federal or State Tax Returns
- Garnishment of Bank Accounts
- Jail Time for Up to a Year
- Any other Action Allowed by Law
You should feel free to consult with an attorney experienced in Enforcement and Contempt proceedings to discuss the wide variety of remedies available under Florida Law.