What to Do if Your Former Spouse Disobeys Court Orders or Divorce Judgments
Once a judgment has been granted in a divorce proceeding, it is natural to assume that the most challenging part of the legal proceedings is over. Unfortunately, sometimes an ex-spouse does not comply with a court order. However, you can take steps to ensure that your ex-spouse is held accountable. An Edmonton divorce lawyer may be able to help you understand your enforcement options and advise you of your next steps when an ex-spouse breaches a court order.
In Alberta, divorce proceedings are governed by the Divorce Act and the provincial Family Law Act when determining orders for child and spousal support, parenting arrangements, child protection, and guardianship issues. These orders are enforceable by law.
Enforcing Parenting Time
If your ex-spouse is non-compliant with court-ordered parenting time, you must first advise the court of the breach. If your court order does not explicitly describe parenting time, you may need to amend your current court order. However, if it is clear on this matter, you must contact a family court counselor in your jurisdiction to make a court application to enforce parenting time.
An Edmonton divorce lawyer may be able to help you prepare and file the necessary paperwork, serve the other party with legal documents, and represent you in any necessary court proceedings.
Penalties for denying court-ordered parenting time can include a requirement for make-up visits, police enforcement of visitation, financial penalties, and even jail time. If your ex-spouse does not return your child after a visit, the police may get involved, and the non-compliant party may be responsible for financial penalties or incur jail time.
Enforcing Spousal and Child Support
Alberta's Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) allows individuals to collect court-ordered child support, spousal support, and partner support and enforce these as required. To register for the MEP, you must meet the following criteria:
- You or the other party must reside in Alberta
- You must either be a payor or recipient of partner support, child support, or spousal support
- A court order for support or Maintenance Order or Maintenance Agreement must be filed with the court
The MEP does not provide legal representation or advice to clients. We recommend that if you have not yet filed a court order, you contact an Alberta-based family lawyer to assist with this process and ensure your rights are protected. Our Edmonton divorce lawyers have many years of experience processing Maintenance Enforcement Program requests on behalf of our clients.
Although spousal and child support is enforceable by law, you may not prevent a parent from seeing their child based on a failure to meet support obligations unless the court finds otherwise. If this creates a hostile environment when transferring the children, you may wish to consider doing the exchange in a public location or through a neutral third party.
If a party disobeys a "no-contact" order, such as a restraining or protection order, arrest and criminal charges may apply. An Edmonton divorce lawyer may be able to help you understand your rights and responsibilities. If you have immediate concerns for your or someone else's safety, please call the police.
Contact our Verhaeghe Family Lawyers Today
If your ex-spouse has breached the terms of a court order, our Edmonton law firm ;may be able to help. Contact us today for more information and to schedule a consultation.
* Please note that the information in this article is not intended as legal advice but rather as a general overview of family law. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with a lawyer.