Once an order is issued by a court, or an agreement is signed by the parties, there is still no guarantee that the terms of that order or agreement are going to be followed. Almost everyone who has been involved with Family Law litigation knows the frustration of having to go back to court to enforce a divorce agreement that has already been settled. At Breiter and Gura, we are extremely familiar with the often complex problems that go along with attempting to enforce an existing order or agreement, and can analyze your particular matter in a way to determine the best way to proceed, the most forceful means to achieve your goal, and the best means to help insure that your adversary will have to pay for whatever action you take.

The courts do not actively oversee the performance of orders and stipulations they have issued.
Clients are often surprised to find out that the courts do not actively oversee the performance of orders and stipulations they have issued. When there is a breach of an agreement, or a failure to follow an order, it is up to the aggrieved party to bring the non-compliance to the court’s attention. Clients are also surprised to learn that while enforcement usually is done under the umbrella of “contempt,” the inability or refusal to follow an order or fulfill a responsibility under an agreement does not always amount to a finding of actual civil contempt — a finding which requires specific evidence of a party’s willfulness in failing to observe a court order — but will at least result in either a means of enforcing the order as it exists or the means of amending it if necessary.

At Breiter and Gura, we go over the issues carefully with each client to determine the cost benefits of seeking the courts’ intervention for enforcement. Under some circumstances, the court will award you the legal costs of the action, but sometimes, even when you are in the right, the court declines to award fees. Therefore, it is prudent to examine each matter to determine the probability of winning, the possibility of actually collecting, and the possible cost of the action. For clients who need to be defended against an enforcement motion, the issue then becomes presenting a defense that will avoid a finding of civil contempt (which can involve incarceration), and settling the matter in an expeditious manner to avoid creating even more financial headaches.