Enforcement of Court Orders in Colorado Family Law

Protecting Your Rights & Advocating For Your Interests

The Denver divorce lawyers at Halligan LLC handle all aspects of divorce and custody cases for our clients, including legal representation before and after final orders are entered. A problem faced by many Coloradans is what to do when the other party is not following the final orders pertaining to child support, custody, spousal support, and division of property, among other matters.

When a court enters orders, most people comply with what is required. However, there are those who choose to disregard court orders. Judges take it seriously when parties defy court orders. Those who do so run the risk of being held in contempt of court and could face multiple repercussions, including fines and even jail time.

An experienced Denver divorce lawyer at Halligan LLC can help you take steps to enforce court orders. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Denver divorce attorneys, call us today at (720) 608-2361.

Entry of Judgment and Contempt of Court

In Colorado, there are two main mechanisms by which court orders are enforced. The first is an entry of judgment, which can be filed with the court if a parent is not paying their court-ordered child support or maintenance payments. There are also remedies for when a party fails to transfer property per a court order.

A child support and/or maintenance payment becomes a final money judgment when it is due and not paid. When this happens, the party owed the child support and/or maintenance can file a Verified Entry of Support Judgment to enforce the support order. The judgment may not only include all past-due child support and/or maintenance payments but also compounded statutory interest.

Another procedure used to gain compliance with court orders is known as a contempt proceeding. There are two main types of contempt under Colorado law: direct contempt and indirect contempt.

Direct contempt is when a party, attorney, or another individual over which the court has authority refuses to comply with a court order while in court and in front of a judge. Indirect contempt, which is a much more common form of contempt, occurs when an individual does not abide by an order of the court while out in society outside the courtroom.

Motion Concerning Parenting Time Disputes

Disputes concerning parenting time will be handled according to Colorado State Statute 14-10-129.5. If a parent is not complying with a parenting time order or schedule, a motion can be filed, and the court will address the issue within 35 days of the verified filing of the motion (by either parent or the court itself).

If the allegations are inadequate, the court will deny the motion. If they are determined to be credible, the court could set the matter for hearing, or could require the parties to attend mediation and report back to the court within a certain timeframe. Once the mediation period has ended, the court will either approve an agreement reached by the parents or will schedule a hearing on the matter.

If the court finds that a parent has not complied with the parenting time order after the hearing, the court may:

  • Issue an order placing additional terms and conditions consistent with the previous order.
  • Issue an order that modifies the previous order to better fit the best interests of the child.
  • Require one or both parents to attend a parental education program. This will often come at the expense of the noncomplying parent.
  • Order the parents to participate in family counseling at the expense of the noncomplying parent.
  • Order the noncomplying parent to post bond or security to ensure compliance in the future
  • Require that makeup parenting time be provided to the aggrieved parent or child, with specific conditions.
  • Impose a fine or jail sentence on the noncomplying parent if found in contempt of court.
  • Impose a civil fine not to exceed $100 per incident to be paid by the noncomplying parent.
  • Modify the existing child custody order or allocation of responsibilities.
  • Take any other action that will promote the best interests of the child or children.

The noncomplying parent will also be required to pay the aggrieved parent’s attorney’s fees, court costs, and other expenses related to the legal action. If the court finds that the parent responding to the action did not violate the parenting time order or schedule, the petitioning parent may be forced to pay these costs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

At Halligan LLC, we get many questions from clients regarding the enforcement of court orders. Below are a few of the most commonly asked questions. We hope you find our answers helpful. Please contact our family law attorneys at (720) 608-2361 if you have further questions.

What are some problems that may arise after a divorce decree has been entered into the court?

Some of the most common divorce decree violations include:

  • Withholding parenting time in accordance with the court-ordered parenting plans
  • Refusing to cooperate and/or obtain the other parent’s consent in making decisions in the best interests of the children
  • Refusing to sign documents needed to transfer assets to the other party
  • Withholding property from the other party

What are some ways to enforce my court-ordered parenting time with my child?

Call Law Enforcement

Often the police will enforce a court order on your behalf. However, before calling law enforcement, it’s recommended that you call the other parent to let them know that they are violating a court order, and you will call the police if they do not provide the child immediately. If that proves ineffective, you could call the police during your parenting time, and tell them that it is your time to be with the child and your ex is withholding the child. Be sure to have a signed copy of the court order with you to show the police officer.

File a Motion Concerning Parenting Time Disputes

A motion concerning parenting time disputes is often heard by the court sooner than a motion for contempt, because Colorado state law says that a motion concerning parenting time disputes must be set for a hearing as soon as possible. The court may also order the other party to pay your attorney’s fees incurred as a result of enforcing the Court Order. The court has other options. For instance, the court could order new orders that it deems are in the best interest of the child, order the parties to attend mediation, or find that the withholding party is in contempt of court.

What are the benefits of a Motion Concerning Parenting Time Disputes?

This Motion has a variety of benefits and tends to be resolved faster than a motion for contempt. Motions to enforce parenting time have fewer procedural requirements than contempt motions. Also, motions to enforce can provide additional relief that is not available under contempt theories. For instance, the court may order make-up parenting time, modify parenting time, require family counseling, require the violating party to post bond to ensure future compliance – in addition to an order finding the non-complying parent in contempt and/or imposition of jail sentences or fines and payment of the other party’s attorney fees and costs.

What is contempt of court?

This is one way the court can punish a party for not following the orders of the court.

In family law, contempt of court charges typically involve non-compliance with payments pursuant to a court order, or non-compliance with the terms of a parenting plan (other than parenting time), and may also include nonpayment of spousal or child support. Usually, the court will first give that person a chance to make amends for the violation, but potential punishments include a fine or even jail time, in some cases.

Contact Us Today

If you have questions about enforcing family law court orders, contact Halligan LLC, and one of our experienced family law attorneys will be glad to discuss the particulars of your case and your legal options. Call us today at (720) 608-2361 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.