Receiving the divorce decree from the Family Court judge represents the end of the process of finalizing your and your ex’s rights and duties regarding property division, child custody, child support, visitation and alimony. But the decree is just a stack of papers if you do not enforce it.
Most divorced people in Bergen County comply with the court order. But if your ex refuses, it could cost you and your children a lot of money or deny you the visitation time you are entitled to. It is up to you to make your ex play by the rules and do what the court ordered them to do.
The most common strategy
It may work to send your ex a “reminder” call or letter, but the most common and effective strategy is to get the court involved. You and your attorney can file a motion in Family Court asking the court to take action against your ex. The court will schedule a hearing on the matter and both sides will get the chance to argue their case. Then, the judge will decide whether to grant your motion. Note that you do not have to prove that your ex willfully violated the order, just that they did so.
What punishments can the court impose?
If the judge sides with you, the law lets them impose any remedy they deem fair and just, including jail time in some cases. However, because a family law dispute is not a criminal law matter, incarceration is rare and must be coercive, not punitive. In other words, the judge can only send a noncomplying ex to jail if they believe it will get the ex to start complying. And once compliance begins or jail proves ineffective, the party must be freed. A set sentence is not allowed.
More often, the judge will impose fines to encourage the ex to start complying. A fine and the threat of even higher ones in the future is enough to make most people start taking court orders seriously.
Promptly and effectively enforcing your property or parental rights requires experienced legal assistance. The same attorney you worked with in your divorce can help you assert your legal rights now.