Illinois courts might be able to help you enforce your decree. Failure to comply with a divorce decree could land someone in jail. Of course, that is not always the case and there would probably be other options available before you could pursue criminal punishment. Please keep in mind while reading this article that nothing herein should be taken as legal advice.
Generally speaking, you have a few options to convince your ex to adhere to the terms of your divorce agreement. Your best course of action depends on several factors, such as the nature of the violation, your relationship with your ex and so on. Here is a brief discussion of two potential alternatives.
Negotiation and Personal Communication
When you are just starting to deal with someone who is not holding up his/her end of a divorce agreement, it is sometimes acceptable to communicate with that person directly and ask for compliance. In some cases, your divorce agreement may require you to try to work out an issue or even mediate it before seeking the court’s involvement.
Specifically, you may want to keep your messages polite and restrict communications to the factual details of the violation. Along the same line of reasoning, you may find it strengthens your position during any future arguments to keep a record of communications, perhaps by entering copied messages into a personal online calendar or keeping detailed notes about phone calls. Emails are a good method of maintaining a record of what was communicated. Emails are easier to document than texts and as therefore preferred.
Filing for Contempt of Court
You may also be able to petition the court for a Rule to Show Cause. This is basically a more formal way of asking your ex to defend the violation of your divorce decree. Your ex-spouse should get some information about your petition, along with a chance to counter your claims or demonstrate that he/she did not willfully violate the court order. If that happens, you may be able to use various forms of evidence to substantiate your claim, possibly including the records of any personal communications you made while attempting to solve the problem outside of court.
Illinois could allow several options to compel compliance with court orders including issuing court warnings, garnishing support payments from wages, imposing fines, intercepting tax refunds, and various other methods. These are typically proportional to the scale of the offense. For example, the court would probably issue stronger penalties for violations of child support that involved longer periods of delinquency or larger arrearages. It is useful to know that the courts powers are directly related to achieving compliance with its orders. The goal or result of the court’s involvement is not to hand out punishment but rather to incentivize one to comply with his or her obligations.
What if you have some unique terms in your divorce? Violations of agreements about businesses, debts and child education have the potential to be complicated. Please feel free to call me at (312) 621-5234 to schedule an overview of a divorce enforcement issue.