Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Part II - Standing up to your Ex-spouse

Today I am presenting to you the second in a series of ten postings about divorce decrees. These will all refer to post decree actions. Most of the information is of general applicability but is cited to Indiana law where appropriate.

The last posting in this series discuss the filing of contempt actions. Again, if you are the target of a contempt action then I strongly suggest that you get assistance. If you cannot afford an attorney and want one the court must appoint one to represent you if jail is to be considered an option. Today I will discuss strategy and techniques for you to use to deal with a combative ex-spouse who you may need to file a contempt action against or may be filing one against you.

You should always give the opposing party adequate time to comply before filing a contempt action, but don’t wait too long to file. Failure to file in a timely manner can be viewed by the court as a lack of concern on your part that the court's orders should be followed. Therefore, a contempt action should be filed as soon as practical after the party fails to comply. This demonstrates that you demand compliance and that the orders established by the court are important to you.

Your relationship with the opposing party after the divorce will directly affect your initial actions. If an ex-spouse violates the court order without any complaint then those actions or inaction will probably continue in the future. Any order of the court which is violated is a contemptuous act. Some will appear verbatim in the divorce decree. This may be a child support amount, visitation times or other payments that must be made. Others however must be taken from statute, case law or guidelines. These may be the right to access medical or school records regardless of custodial status, support [as defined by I.C. 35-46-1-1] or provisions of an order that come secondary to a primary act.

One action that it is important to expeditiously file a contempt motion on is visitation issues. Failure to do this may leave your child feeling that you don't care to visit him or her if the other parent has been denying visitation. The most common contempt action is for non-payment of child support. In Boone County Indiana the Title IV-D prosecutor, Jennifer Stogsdill, says the prosecutor's office will not seek enforcement action for child support payments against a mother. This is not uncommon among many jurisdictions. Father's will find it nearly impossible to have a mother held in contempt.

While it is important to stand up for yourself and demand compliance with the court's orders you should not undertake any action that is going to cause conflict, especially anything illegal. If denied visitation never take your child from a home, public location or another party unless the child is in immediate danger. Instead, have your paperwork in hand and call the police. You will likely be told that the court will have to resolve the matter but make sure a report is made and get the officers name.

Unfortunately, certain spouses just refuse to abide by the decree and should go to jail for failure to comply. While this is an unfortunate situation, it is critical to send a message to that spouse that compliance with a court order is necessary and required. When people in the courtroom see the sheriff take a party to jail for contempt, great efforts are made to work out problems between the parties.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

No comments: