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What to do when your ex-spouse isn't following court orders

It's exceedingly frustrating for parents to have to deal with an ex who consistently flouts the child custody agreements put in place by the courts. Seeing a parent thumb their nose at court orders can lead to anger and retaliation. However, that can just place the parent who is in the right in a perilous legal position.

If you are dealing with this type of behavior from your ex, it's important that you not try to take the law into your own hands to mete out justice. Understanding that you likely have legal recourse available to you can give you the patience you need to let events play out in a court of law.

Family court is generally the venue to address these matters

When you already have a court order in place, you often need to turn to the family court that issued the order to be able to hold your recalcitrant ex responsible for his or her actions or inaction.

Below are some issues with an ex that the Michigan family courts can address:

  • Failing to timely pay court-ordered child support
  • Interference with visitation as set forth in your parenting agreement
  • Exes who trespass or harass you

Don't fly off the handle

Not only can doing so set a horrible example for your children about how grown-ups deal with setbacks and problems, you could find yourself also in legal hot water by acting irrationally.

There are legal procedures that are typically available to you and that it can be very important to follow. Your first order of business may be to get the matter brought before a judge. You might be able to file a motion to have the court address the specific issue(s).

If you fear for your safety or that of your children, you may be able to pursue filing for a temporary restraining order against your ex. While this order cannot physically prevent an ex from doing you harm, it could hold them legally accountable for any attempts to injure or frighten you or the kids.

Establish a paper trail

An important part of building a strong case can be substantiating deviations from the court order by your ex. For example, if your ex routinely returns the children home later than the agreement specifies, having witness testimony or other evidence to show that this is happening could be important.

If your ex drinks and drives with the kids in the car, alert local law enforcement to this so that they can legally intervene. Records of arrests and convictions for drunk driving or drug possession and use might be able to be subpoenaed by your attorney and used at the hearing to bolster your case.

Always remember to stay within the parameters of your court order in all of your dealings with the kids and your ex to avoid getting hauled back into court.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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