MODIFICATION, ENFORCEMENT AND CONTEMPT PROCEEDINGS
Modification, Enforcement and Contempt Proceedings are described as Post Judgment actions. Post Judgment actions simply means litigation after the entry of a Final Judgment or Order. Once a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or a Final Judgment of Paternity is entered, the Court’s job is done. If either party fails to comply with the terms of the Final Judgment then Enforcement and/or Contempt actions may be appropriate. If there are changes in the personal circumstances of one or both parties after the entry of a Final Judgment or Order, then an action for Modification may be appropriate. Either way you may find yourself in Family Court once again facing post judgment proceedings. You may need to initiate a Modification, Enforcement and/or Contempt proceeding. Similarly, you may be required to defend a Modification, an Enforcement and/or a Contempt proceeding.
Modification involves changing certain provisions of the Final Judgment. Examples of such changes are the custody, parental responsibility, time sharing, visitation, child support and alimony (spousal support) provisions. Modification is generally based on substantial, material, unforeseen, and permanent changes in the personal circumstances of either or both parties, which require a Court to modify its prior Judgment. Some examples of these changes include jobs gained or lost, children reaching the age of majority, relocation of the children’s residences and the like.
ENFORCEMENT AND CONTEMPT
Enforcement and Contempt proceedings involve failing to comply with the Court’s prior Order or Judgment. The Judgment may require a party to do something or prevent a party from doing something. The Judgment may also require the payment of money by one party to the other party. Enforcement proceedings are available generally. Contempt proceedings are limited to certain issues, for example, collecting past due alimony (spousal support) and/or child support. Under the Court’s special powers of Contempt, a party can seek to hold the other party in Contempt of Court. One of the remedies in a Contempt proceeding available to a Judge or Magistrate is incarceration of the non complying party. Defenses to Contempt proceedings are limited. The sanctions imposed, such as imprisonment, can be severe.
Doreen M. Varela has extensive experience in assisting new clients and former clients in Post Judgment actions. Your original judgment and any changes in circumstances that require modification of that judgment are examined to provide a realistic assessment of success at trial. Strategies to best obtain compliance with the original judgment are also examined. Facing Post Judgment litigation without the assistance of an experienced attorney can be both emotionally and financially costly so don’t go at it alone.