Family relationships and dynamics are among the most personal aspects of someone’s life. When the Court system gets involved for any reason, it may feel like a whirlwind that is mostly out of your control. Complying with court orders might seem challenging, especially when dealing with personal family matters. In this article, we discuss the importance of complying with court orders, the consequences of non-compliance, and the possible legal avenues you can pursue if you disagree with a court order.
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Understanding Court Orders: Why They Can’t Be Ignored
Many people have difficulty wrapping their minds around the idea of a stranger imposing rules and deadlines upon these relationships and dynamics. However, once a Court gets involved in a divorce or family law matter, a Judge will enter many Orders in a case. These Orders can include setting deadlines to send a document to another party, establishing how much money a parent must pay each month in child support, and so much more. You might wonder why you should listen to the Orders that a Judge enters in your case when the Judge is not as familiar with your family as you are. But the answer is simple: failure to comply with a Court Order can, and will, have various consequences.
Consequences of Not Complying With Court Orders
If a party does not comply with a Court Order, they can face legal consequences, experience a strain on their parenting relationship with the other party, and even cause a negative impact on their children.
The legal consequences for failing to comply with a Court Order can range from paying monetary penalties to even going to jail. The monetary penalties can include paying sanctions and attorney’s fees and can include interest accruing on any overdue financial requirements imposed by the Court, such as spousal support and maintenance or child support. In Illinois, the current interest rate for matters such as these is as high as 9%.
Strained Parental Relationships
Failing to comply with a Court Order can also cause a strain on the relationship between parents. Once parties are involved in litigation, they should be able to expect that the other side will adhere to the rules and obligations imposed by a Court Order, even if it is very contentious between the parties. By disregarding a Court Order, a party further strains their relationship with the other side, which more than likely will cause more litigation and additional time and expenses for all parties. The more that two parties can work together and build a healthy, working parenting relationship with each other, the less a Court or attorneys need to be involved.
The Impact on Children
When children are involved in a Court proceeding, it is very important for parents to maintain as much stability as possible for the children during a time when the children are facing many changes in their lives. When a party disregards a Court Order, they can complicate a child’s routine and expectations. Take, for example, a custody or visitation arrangement. If a child knows they are supposed to see a parent every other Wednesday for dinner, but that does not happen because of a party’s lack of compliance with a Court Order, the child may feel confused, wondering why things are not happening as they should. This not only causes unnecessary turmoil for a child, but also sets a bad example to the child on handling something they may not agree with completely.
So, what can a person do when there is a Court Order on their case that they disagree with? It depends on the type of Order, the circumstances of the Order, and the party’s issue with the Order.
How to Challenge a Court Order
There may be circumstances in which a party can, in a way, challenge a Court’s Order. This can be done by timely filing a Motion to Modify, or a Motion to Reconsider, and/or a Notice of Appeal.
A Motion to Modify may be filed in certain situations, but many times an Order is not modifiable unless a substantial change in circumstances occurs, or until a certain amount of time elapses. A Motion to Reconsider must point out an error by the Judge in the application of the law, newly discovered evidence, or another reason for a Judge to “change their mind.” A Notice of Appeal will cause a reviewing Court to examine the Judge’s ruling.
However, these options are not to be taken merely because a party does not like a decision; rather, a party must have a good reason for attempting these remedies. If a party attempts to use one of these remedies without good cause, the party will incur additional legal fees and may even have sanctions imposed upon them. These options, still, are the proper avenues for challenging a Court’s Order instead of disregarding the Order.
Again, in the whirlwind that family experiences when they are involved in the Court system, one of the worst things you can do is disregard a Court Order. Doing so can have far-reaching legal consequences, can cause a strain on your parenting relationship, and can negatively impact your children.
If you are going through a divorce or family law case in Chicago and there is a Court Order that you disagree with, please comply with the Order and consider reaching out to an experienced divorce attorney to discuss whether a remedy may be available to you.