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Enforcing your Judgment

Categorized as Divorce Litigation

After obtaining a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, parties sometimes have issues with one party not following the Judgment. This is a very frustrating problem and can often leave the party following the Judgment feeling helpless. However, the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides methods of enforcing your Judgment. Section 511 of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides that a judgment for dissolution of marriage may be enforced by order of Court pursuant to a petition. This means that, in order to enforce a judgment, the party seeking to enforce the judgment must file a petition. To enforce a judgment, parties will file a petition to hold the party not complying with the Judgment in contempt.

Contempt can be either criminal or civil, and either direct or indirect. Criminal contempt asks the court to punish past misconduct, whereas civil contempt asks the court to compel the party to follow the Judgment. Direct contempt only applies to the party’s misconduct that is witnessed by the Judge. Therefore, contempt is only direct if it occurs in Court. Indirect contempt applies to behavior that occurs outside of the Court’s presence. Because the end goal is to enforce the Judgment and this conduct typically happens outside the presence of the Judge, parties most commonly ask the court to force the party to comply with the order by holding the party in indirect civil contempt.

In order to find the party not following the Judgment in indirect civil contempt, the court must find that the party is able to comply with the Judgment. If the party is able to comply with the Judgment but is willfully not complying, the Court may find the party in indirect civil contempt. Once the Court finds the party in indirect civil contempt, the party must be given the opportunity to comply with the Judgment prior to being incarcerated. For example, if the parties’ judgment requires one spouse to tender proof of his taxes to the other, but the party fails to do so, the Court would likely order that party to simply tender the tax returns to the other party prior to incarcerating the party. If the party fails to tender the tax returns after being ordered to do so, then that party can be incarcerated for a failure to comply with the Judgment. If your ex-spouse is failing to comply with the terms of your Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, please feel free to contact our office for a consultation.

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