Los Angeles family law court orders are a critical part of any divorce or child custody matter. They provide direction for the divorcing parties after the resolution of the divorce case. In many cases, people don't always obey the terms of these orders. When this happens, you have legal recourse to obtain their compliance. Our Los Angeles divorce lawyers are often asked: I obtained a court order – now what?
Too often, obtaining a court order is only the first step to solving a problem. Whether you are facing domestic violence from a partner or spouse, being harassed, threatened, or stalked by someone who is not a part of your immediate family, a court order is just a piece of paper unless you can enforce it.
The same goes for any court orders obtained during domestic proceedings, such as divorce. So the questions are, what kind of court orders can you obtain to protect yourself and your rights, and how do you enforce them?
If you are a party to a family law case, such as in a divorce action, child custody or support action fails to comply with the court's directive within a court order; you can seek enforcement of that court order. However, enforcing a court order can take a substantial amount of time to get in place. When your spouse or ex-spouse fails to provide access to your children for visitation, which is a violation of a custody order or agreement, enforcement of the court's order will need to be pursued through contempt proceedings.
Common Types of Court Orders
There are a number of different types of court orders – restraining orders, orders for child support, custody, and visitation, orders for enforcement of judgments, and automatic order related to divorce proceedings. In each case, the remedy for enforcement of orders is essentially the same – tell the court about any violations, and trust the court to follow through on enforcement. Protective orders allow the court to specifically define what is considered acceptable contact between spouses, often including children.
If you are in a situation where it's a struggle to get child support payments from your ex-spouse, fighting for visitation rights, or haven't received your share of marital assets, you need to take action. The issue of enforcing family law court orders can be very complex. Therefore, you need to consult with a Los Angeles divorce attorney at Furman & Zavatsky LLP as soon as possible. We know what steps to take to effectively get results.
Restraining Orders are Intended to Protect You From Physical Harm
There are two basic kinds of restraining orders. A domestic violence restraining order operates against immediate family members, which can include blood relatives, domestic partners, spouses, and others with a close familial relationship. A civil harassment restraining order applies to people such as neighbors, friends, co-workers, and even strangers.
These orders are granted if someone without a familial relationship of some sort is violent toward you, makes a credible threat of violence, or engages in an intentional course of action that is harassing or threatening for no legitimate purpose. This can include electronic contact, such as phone calls, text messages, or emails, as well as physical conduct, such as following to such an extent as to be considered stalking, or other physical intimidation.
Particularly with respect to domestic violence restraining orders, this kind of conduct often comes up in divorce cases. If you have obtained a domestic violence restraining order and believe it is being violated, there are steps you can take. These steps include:
- Obtain copies of your restraining order along with proof of service from the issuing court's clerk.
- Keep a copy of your restraining order in your possession at all times – keeping more than one in your purse, wallet, glove box, backpack, or briefcase also is a safe practice. You should always have a copy available in case the police want to see one if you call them to respond to a violation. You also should keep a copy in a safe place as a backup.
- Make sure that you give a copy – even by mail — to anyone restrained by the order, and document that you did so, such as through a registered mail receipt.
- If the restraining order prohibits a person from going to a particular place, such as a child's school or daycare, your place of employment, or your home, make sure a person in charge at those locations has a copy.
- Give copies to security personnel in your apartment building and at your place of work, and give a copy to your local police department.
If you believe the person who is the subject of the order is violating the restraining order, call the police. Show the responding officers a copy of the restraining order. If the violating individual is not there, ask the officers who responded to serve the order on the restrained individual.
Make sure to ask the officers to fill out and return to you a Proof of Personal Service form. When the officers return the form, file it with the court.
Be sure to document evidence of the violation, including names of witnesses, and then press criminal charges against the restrained person. You also can file a civil action for contempt if the individual continues to violate the restraining order. This can result in jail time for the restrained person and should be a last resort.
There are Many Court Orders Involved in the Divorce Process
Child custody and visitation orders also are subject to court enforcement. You should treat these orders the same as a restraining order – keep a copy everywhere you might want to have access to it, such as at work, home, with caregivers, at homes where your children go to play, and the like.
If you believe your spouse (or ex-spouse if your divorce is final) is violating a custody or visitation order, follow the same basic steps as you would in the event of violation of a restraining order – call the police, and seek protection from the court. Keep accurate records of what you believe to be visitation violations, including witness names and statements where possible.
California law also provides for a number of automatic court orders that apply as soon as you file for divorce. These are known as Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders, or ATROS, and they take effect immediately upon filing for divorce, with no action required on your part.
They have an immediate effect to protect you from any major changes in child custody or financial arrangements during the divorce case.
ATROS orders prevent any major changes in financial or custody arrangement without court approval. You or your spouse can't take your children out of state or deny access to the children by the other parent, and you can't sell or take loans against property, or cancel or change life insurance policies without your spouse's consent or a court order. Other restrictions apply. As with other court orders, if you believe violations are occurring, you can work with the court for enforcement. To do so, you should seek legal assistance.
If You Need to Enforce Court Orders, Contact the Our Los Angeles Family Law Attorneys
There are many kinds of court orders that can apply in a divorce. If you find you need to enforce one or more of these court orders while you are in the middle of a divorce in the Los Angeles area, you should contact a lawyer to help.
The attorneys of Furman & Zatavsky LLP have years of experienced working with people who seek out this type of protection and understand the process of obtaining and enforcing a restraining order. Call us today at (818) 528-3471 or through our online contact form.
Furman & Zavatsky LLP
15821 Ventura Blvd #690
Encino, CA 91436