When you are divorced, it will be finalized by a judge who will enter a divorce decree on your behalf. This happens in the case of contested divorces, where issues could not be resolved between couples and the judge steps in to issue terms on those matters that were too difficult to resolve. If you and your former spouse are able to agree on the terms leading to your divorce, then the divorce decree makes the judge’s decision enforceable, meaning you two will have to formally comply with the terms of your divorce.
The case may be that your former spouse does not honor the terms of the divorce decree. If that is the case then you would need to file a Contempt Petition, or Rule Nisi, to force their cooperation. Contempt Petitions are often the only pathway for a divorced individual to get enforcement of the divorce decree, and you will see this come up with issues such as failure to comply with visitation conditions, failure to pay child support, medical assistance or health insurance to be provided to the spouse or their children, prohibiting communication between a parent and child, and other issues that are commonly handled in contested divorce cases.
Filing a Contempt Petition
A petition for a Rule Nisi is a separate civil action from the divorce decree, and it requires its own filing fee, costs for the process server to serve papers to your former spouse, and a new court hearing. Once the petition has been filed it will go to a hearing where your ex, the defendant, will have to testify as to the reasons for why they have not been in compliance with the divorce decree.
If and when the judge finds that your ex has not been complying with the decree, for whatever reason, then the judge will place an order to bring them into compliance within a set amount of time. If they fail to do so, then the judge’s options will be to jail them or impose fines until they are in compliance. Additionally, if the former spouse fails to show up for the hearing then an arrest warrant will be made out.
Having an Attorney Assist You with Your Contempt Petition
While the hearing will determine if your former spouse is in compliance, with the judge attempting to make sure the order is carried out, divorce attorneys in Elmore County or wherever you live will do so on a retainer basis. This assistance can be fairly expensive, since it involves a hearing and dealings with a non-compliant spouse, so it usually costs thousands of dollars up front.