When you settle a family law case (or any legal case for that matter), you probably feel a sense of relief. While the process of settling a case can be incredibly frustrating, it is not always the worst part. When a family law case is settled, the agreement is entered into a Court Order which is called a Decree. Often, trying to enforce the terms of the decree is much more difficult.

Enforcing an Order or Decree

If a party is not following all or part of the decree, a motion called an Order to Show Cause can be filed to ask the court to enforce it. Reasons for filing an Order to Show Cause can include the other party failing to pay child support or alimony, not complying with the custody agreement, failing to provide documents, or not signing documents.

How to File an Order to Show Cause

The process starts with filing a Motion. The Motion details to the court how the Decree is being violated. The Motion is accompanied by an Affidavit or Declaration, which is a sworn statement of the facts and evidence supporting the violation of the court order. The court then issues an “Order to Show Cause” setting a hearing date for the motion. The party filing the motion should be prepared to show the evidence that the other party is not complying with the court order or decree.

What Happens when the Motion is Filed?

After the Motion has been filed, the court issues the Order to Show Cause and schedules a hearing. The other party has to be personally served with the Motion, Declaration, and Order to Show Cause. The hearing is to give the party alleged to be in violation an opportunity to be heard. They must appear in court and “show cause,” or in other words, explain why they should not be held in contempt for disobeying the court’s order.

Why is there a Hearing?

The court schedules a hearing allowing both parties to explain their positions. The Court hears from both parties and considers the evidence presented at the hearing and determines whether or not there has been a violation of the court order.

To succeed on a Motion for Order to show cause, the Court must find:

(1) the other party knew about the order;

(2) had the ability to follow the order; and

(3) willfully failed to comply with the order.

If the court finds a party had violated the order, it will then make an appropriate punishment or sanction, which can include fines or penalties, payment of attorneys’ fees, community service, and ins some circumstances, it can impose jail time.

If you’re having trouble with an ex-spouse or co-parent who is not paying child support or alimony, is not following the custody arrangements, or is violating your Decree in some way, contact Utah Legal Coach today. We can go over the documents and offer other legal assistance in helping you draft documents or coach you through the process to prepare you so that you can confidently represent yourself.