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A law is no good unless there’s someone to make everyone follow it. That’s called enforcement. In family law, enforcement is accomplished with anything from charging interest on past due support obligations to jail. Listed below are some of the various types of enforcement methods available to the court.

Check these topics for more information:
Suspension Of Operating Privileges
Assignment Of Income
Account Transfers
Debt Collections Methods
Contempt of Court

Suspension Of Operating Privileges

If you fail to pay a support payment that is 90 or more days past due and the court finds you have the ability to pay the amount ordered, the court may suspend your operating privilege until you pays all arrearages in full or makes payment arrangements that are satisfactory to the court. The suspension period may not exceed 2 years. You are eligible for an occupational license at any time.

Assignment Of Income

If you are ordered to pay support or maintenance, it’s coming out of your paycheck. Paycheck deduction is the preferred – and legally mandated – way support obligations are fulfilled. This rule applies to all commissions, earnings, salaries, wages, pension benefits, lottery prizes that are payable in installments, and other money due or to be due in the future. The amount they take will be sufficient to cover the amount you are ordered to pay, plus a percentage of any arrearages owed. The amount taken cannot be so much that it puts you below the federal poverty line, nor can it exceed the maximum amount for garnishment.

The court may permit you to pay into the system voluntarily, rather than have your employer withhold, but if you miss a payment, the withholding feature will quickly go into place.

Account Transfers

If income assignment isn’t working for whatever reason, the court can order you to either identify (i.e., reveal to the court) or create a deposit account from which funds can be periodically withdrawn to meet support obligations. You have to put enough money in the account to cover the transfers, of course.

Debt Collections Methods

The court’s remedies include, but are not limited to, other standard debt collection practices, including entering a civil judgment against you for past due amounts, attachment to your property, garnishment, and execution (selling your stuff).

Contempt of Court

The big stick the court has is a contempt proceeding. This comes about because the court has ordered you to do something (pay) and you have not done it. Not doing what a court orders is contempt of court. A contempt proceeding begins when the court issues, or the other party requests, an “order to show cause,” which is a court’s demand for you to explain why you have not done whatever it is the court told you to do and why the court should not hold you in contempt.

Contempt, legally, means intentional:

  • Misconduct in the presence of the court which interferes with a court proceeding or with the administration of justice, or which impairs the respect due the court.
  • Disobedience, resistance or obstruction of the authority, process or order of a court.
  • Violation of Prohibited Conduct During Family Law Cases.
  • Refusal as a witness to appear, be sworn or answer a question.
  • Refusal to produce a record, document or other object.

If the court finds you in contempt, it can issue two types of sanctions – punitive sanctions and remedial sanctions. Punitive Sanctions are designed to punish you for past violations to teach you to respect the court’s authority. Remedial Sanctions are designed to get you to stop ongoing violations. Typically, remedial sanctions are the order of the day.

Remedial Sanctions can include:

  • Payment to compensate a party for a loss caused by the contemptuous behavior.
  • Imprisonment until the person stops committing the contempt or 6 months, whichever is shorter.
  • A forfeiture not to exceed $2,000 for each day the contempt of court continues.
  • An order designed to ensure compliance with a prior order of the court.
  • A sanction other than the above if the court finds that those sanctions would be ineffective to terminate a continuing contempt.

Punitive Sanctions allow the court to put you in jail for up to a year and fine you up to $5000 for each separate act of contempt.

A contempt order has to be issued by a judge. If the Family Court Commissioner wants to hold you in contempt, he/she has to refer it to a judge.