A few details
YOU SHOULD KNOW
How we can help
1 – Support Enforcement Court
In “Enforcement Court” a hearing is automatically set with a Family Court Conference Officer after a petition to enforce is filed. An order to appear will be issued. A one-hour hearing is set to try and figure out a solution between the parties. If it is unsuccessful, the parties will immediately go into a 45-minute evidentiary hearing before a Judge. This is a very fast process. You will want to be prepared with all of your evidence when you are ordered to appear. For instance, if you have receipts proving payments or expenses, you will need to have them with you. I also recommend sending copies of all of your evidence to the opposing party in advance.
After the evidentiary hearing, you will immediately receive a ruling. This can be in contrast with the long and difficult divorce process described here. Support Enforcement Court is designed to be fast-tracked, simplified, and efficient. So, preparation prior to filing a petition to enforce is essential.
Depending on your circumstances, the court may put monitoring in place for up to 12 months to ensure that the parties comply with the court orders. If the court determines longer monitoring is appropriate because of chronic violations or large amounts of arrearages, your case may end up in accountability court.
While Enforcement Court is not the same as family court, several rules still apply. You may not bring children with you to court. You may not speak to the family conference provider by yourself without the opposing party present. This is called ex-parte communications. If you need to reschedule the date of your hearing, you must file a motion to continue for good cause. Do not ignore your hearing date.
2 – Family Court
If a party wants to seek modification of legal decision-making or parenting time along with support enforcement, your case will not go to enforcement court. Instead, all issues will be heard simultaneously by your family court judge.
To enforce property division or other issues from a divorce decree, like refinancing a house to get your name off of the loan, you will not go through the process in Support Enforcement Court. In that case, your Petition to Enforce will take you to the assigned Judge in family court for rulings on your enforcement issues. There, the process is very similar to the divorce process described here.
3 – Accountability Court
There are several reasons that a case may not be appropriate for accountability court, including:
- The case is for arrears only or for spousal maintenance only.
- The arrears are due to direct payment verification only.
- The person owing support has been awarded or is eligible for Social Security benefits.
- The person owing support has an open bankruptcy case.
- The person owing support has not received adequate notice of accountability court proceedings.
4 – Civil Court
Give us a call to talk about your enforcement issues.