The Denver divorce attorneys at Plog & Stein, P.C. handle all aspects of Colorado divorce and custody cases for both men and women. This includes representation before final orders are entered and after. A significant problem faced by many people, particularly in these economic times, is what to do when the other party is not following the final orders that have been entered.
This posting will focus primarily on non-child support orders and remedies other than contempt of court. For those topics, see our main website or prior blog articles. There are other, non-child support, situations that people may find themselves in after there divorce is final. There are also other legal remedies beyond contempt of court. Contempt of court may be a great avenue to pursue when the other side is not complying with the court’s order, but not always. Below are a few examples of other enforcement remedies available to our clients.
Scenario 1: Let’s say the separation agreement sets forth specific visitation for the mother and the child lives primarily with father. Let’s say father decides he is just going to stop letting mother see the child. Let’s say the child is 5 and there are no danger issues presented by mother’s environment. Rather than filing a contempt of court action, mother might consider filing a motion to enforce parenting time pursuant to statutory section C.R.S.14-10-129.5. With the filing of a motion to enforce parenting time, the court can grant various forms of relief, including make up parenting time, attorney fees, contempt like remedies, modification of existing orders, and even make the father who is not complying post a cash bond to be forfeited should there be future non-compliance. The nice thing about a motion to enforce parenting time is that it is supposed to be given priority placement on the court’s docket, meaning the matter may be heard much sooner that a contempt of court action. Additionally, this type of a motion should generally entail one hearing, whereas a contempt entails both the advisement hearing and the actual evidentiary hearing. The burden of proof with a motion to enforce parenting time is also a preponderance of the evidence standard instead of the beyond a reasonable doubt standard that comes with a punitive contempt.
Scenario 2: Let’s say the parties are divorced and the husband is supposed to sign over the title to the house to the wife. Let’s say he won’t do it. Again, though the wife could certainly file a contempt motion based on husband’s non-compliance, she might consider instead filing a motion pursuant to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 70. Pursuant to Rule 70, the court is vested with the power to enter an order authorizing the clerk or another third person to sign the document in place of the husband. That signature should be just as legally valid to the county clerk and recorder. If the house is in the actual district, the court may also enter an order of conveyance that should also suffice. To pursue Rule 70 relief, a motion must be filed outlining the court’s order, the other party’s non-compliance, and specifying the document that needs to be signed. Barring a valid response (which husband is likely to forego filing anyway), the wife should ultimately have that deed signed in a legally binding fashion. She should also ask her divorce lawyer about recovering attorney fees for husbands ridiculous behavior.
Scenario 3: Let’s say the separation agreement stemming from the divorce indicates that the parties are to spit uninsured medical costs 50/50, with reimbursement to be made in 30 days. Let’s say that there is a medical bill for their son, Timmy, for $2000 dollars. Let’s say husband paid the $2000 up front, presented wife with a copy of the bill and proof of payment, and 60 days have passed. Despite two or three written requests/demands for wife to pay, she refuses. Let’s say wife has a good job. Again, rather than filing a contemt motion, husband might consider pursuing different relief. Specifically, he could file a motion to enforce the separation agreement and to convert the amount owed to a judgment. Assuming wife has no plausible defense, the court should ultimately grant this relief, and likely much more quickly than in a contempt proceeding. Once the $1000 has been reduced to judgment, husband can the file a writ of garnishment, have that served upon wife’s employer, and start getting roughly 25% of her disposable income until the judgment is satisfied. She might also get attorney fees if her attorney was smart enought to put a provision in the separation agreement regarding fees for non-compliance.
With all 3 scenarios outline above, the process would likely have been quicker and cheaper for your Denver divorce attorney to litigate than if you had gone the contempt route. This is not to say that contempt of court is not sometimes the best, or only, alternative, particularly with the threat of jail. Rather, the point is that there are other remedies available to you should you former loved one decide that he or she does not need to play by the rules.