Thursday, October 9, 2014

Modifiying, Changing, or Enforcing a Court Order in a Family Court

Modifying a family court order and enforcing a family court order are two different things but both are very important aspects of family law in America. Knowing what to do with a family court order differentiates a court order from a normal piece of paper. A court order carries with it the full faith and credit of the State or Federal Court and its laws. Violating one whether it's a family court order or civil court, can carry very serious consequences.

While modifying a court order varies from state to state, the principle is of modifying an order is universal, sometimes thing change and a court order must be changed to reflect this change. For example, if a person was ordered to pay $500 per week in alimony but five years later, that person suffers a bad accident rendering him or her unable to work, that situation calls for a modification of the original order or the person will be saddled with debt or be held in contempt for violating the order. Either situation is not good. The family courts in our country are also skilled in determining whether someone seeks a modification willfully and not because of a true change of circumstance like the example above.

  • What is the nature of the change that warrants a modification? Some family courts will not even consider your claim if it is shown to be a temporary change. The next question is, what is temporary and what is not? If someone becomes unemployed, how is that person to know whether it is short term or long term? The longer the person waits, the more he or she becomes backed up with money he or she owes stemming from the breach. Before sprinting to the local family court, it is wise to do research about the local laws and/or hire a local attorney who can advise you if it is worth pursuing or not. If the change is permanent, trying to modify the order as soon as possible is wise and will prevent a person from falling far behind in payments. While you may not get a court date for several weeks, at least you have let the court know that you have an issue and you need to be heard. Nobody can help you if you do not tell anybody so contact your local lawyer right away or if you are savvy enough, file right away.

  • I have a family court order for weekly alimony but the opposing side does not abide by it, does not care, what can I do?Once you have an order, you have the power to enforce it by bringing the breach to the court's attention. Again, a court does not know if someone is not honoring the law unless someone tells them. By filing an enforcement motion or enforcement application with the order attached to it, a person has the right to seek the enforcement of the order, to seek lawyer's fees that they paid their lawyer to bring the enforcement action, sanctions, fines, and/or to be found to be in contempt of court and in some cases sit in jail. If the person who owes you the alimony refuses to pay, the Judge can order that the amount be garnished from his or her wages each pay period, can order that any tax refund he or she receives be intercepted and given to you, can order that if he or she receives any rents or business income that someone be put in place to collect the funds and pay you the money that is owed to you.

  • In short, with an order, the court has many tools available to it that can help a person get what is owed to them. So if and when you get a court order, keep it in a secure place and be ready to use it if someone does not follow the order as soon as you can because there is a reason why the Judge ordered it in the first place.

This article has been written by New Jersey Family Law Attorney Santo V. Artusa, Jr., of the Jersey City Based Family Law and Divorce Law Firm Artusa Law Firm. If you have a family law situation in the state of New Jersey, visit our webpage on or by phone on 201-706-7910.
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