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One of the more common questions that I encounter concerns the ex-spouse that is not complying with the court's orders (this includes the divorce decree).  This takes many forms - not paying child support or alimony; not turning over property as ordered by the court; failing to bring the children back from visitation on time, or pick them up on time; and numerous other examples.

Orders from the court, including the divorce decree, are binding on the parties even after the final hearing in a case.  Not complying with the court's orders is known as contempt of court.  Basically, it means that the court has ordered a party to do something, and that party is not doing it.  The court has many options available to make a party comply with its orders, ranging from a slap on the wrist ("don't do that again") to throwing the party in jail.  Every judge is different and your domestic relations attorney will be able to tell you the likelihood of punishment for your ex-spouse given the particular judge in your case.

One of the more persuasive punishments is having to pay your ex-spouse's attorney's fee.  This seems to get under the skin of most people.  They would rather pay a fine that is double the amount than pay their ex-wife's (ex-husband's) attorney's fees.  In fact, being held in contempt for failing to pay child support brings a mandatory attorney's fee award for the prevailing party. (A.C.A. 9-13-233)

The bottom line is that if your ex-spouse is not complying with the court's orders, there are remedies available to help you - but only if you take the initiative.  Be sure to seek competent legal advice.

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