Proving That Someone Failed to Follow a Family Law Court Order


After a divorce, there is nothing more frustrating than having a former spouse who refuses to follow court-mandated orders. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to hold this person responsible and ensure they comply. You can work things out with the former spouse, but most often, you must handle this situation in court

To prove anything in court, you must “show cause.” Simply put, this means providing evidence that links the defendant's actions to the allegations against them. Showing cause isn't just about proving guilt. It's about convincing a judge that the evidence clearly and logically proves the defendant's guilt.

Here are some common examples of how ex-spouses refuse to fulfill their obligations, along with ways you can show cause, proving their guilt.

Failing to Sell Marital Property

Evidence includes:

  • Property listings, or lack thereof
  • Advertising efforts, or lack thereof
  • Communications with selling agents, or lack thereof

Failing to Pay the Marital Debt

Evidence includes:

  • bank records
  • credit card statements
  • a detailed list of debts owed and evidence that it was not paid

Failure to Transfer Ownership of the Vehicle

Evidence includes:

  • Bill of sale
  • Vehicle registration
  • Any other paperwork related to the purchase of the vehicle
  • Spouse's credit report, showing the loan is listed under their name or jointly with yours

Failure to Pay Child Support

Evidence includes:

  • Payment History
  • Financial Records
  • Communication Exchanges

Failure to Follow Child Custody or Visitation Orders

This could be relevant to either parent. One may fail to appear, be unreliable with pick-up and drop-off times, etc. The other could block rightful visitation times.

Evidence includes:

  • Witness statements
  • A detailed log of missed visitations, blocked visitations, late or early drop-offs and pick-ups, etc.

Failure to Maintain Health Support for Children

Evidence includes:

  • Medical bills
  • Insurance statements
  • Records showing that you paid for these expenses, not the responsible party

Penalties for Failing Failure to Follow Family Court Orders in California

Failing to follow family court orders in California can result in serious penalties. The crime is charged as contempt of court.

Penalties include:

  • Fines
  • Loss of custody
  • In some cases, jail time

When one party fails to follow a family court order, the other may file a motion in court. This is an order to show cause, where the complainant presents the evidence outlined above.

In cases of child custody and support, failing to follow court orders can result in significant penalties. For example, the negligent parent may be subject to wage garnishment, asset seizure, loss of visitation and/or custody rights, and even jail time.

Everyone involved in a divorce must take family court orders seriously. You are expected to follow them exactly as written.

If you are having difficulty complying with a family court order, you must speak with an experienced attorney right away. You can take steps to modify these orders when doing so is justified.

Alternatively, if you have a former spouse who continues to break court orders, you can also get help from a lawyer. They can help you gather the evidence you need to prove your claim. Also, they can help you phrase your claim properly, showing the judge why your accusations are valid.

The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller can help you show cause when your former spouse fails to meet their obligations. If you need help, call our office today at (757) 267-4949 or contact us online.

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