What Can Happen If You Ignore a New York Divorce Judge’s Orders

A law professor teaching about courtroom procedure once told his class that the first and most important rule of litigation was this: “Don’t tick off the judge.” Few things “tick off” judges more than when their orders aren’t followed. If you have been ordered to do – or not do – certain things by the judge in your New York divorce case and you ignore or violate those orders, you could find yourself in a world of trouble.

In divorce proceedings judges issue orders all the time. A judge can issue orders for temporary maintenance, child support, custody, or visitation while the case is spending; the judge can enter protective orders directing one spouse to stay away from the other; and the judge can enter orders to disclose information and documents. Even the final judgment of divorce that concludes your divorce proceedings and contains all of the terms of your divorce is a court order.

If you fail to comply with the terms of a judge’s order, your spouse can advise the court of your alleged violation and seek to have you held in contempt of court. You will need to appear in court and either explain to the judge that you are in fact in compliance or provide the judge with “good cause” why you have violated the order. If you are found to have “willfully” violated the order, that is, you purposefully set out to disobey the order or intentionally ignored it, the judge can find you to be in contempt of court and you could be fined, imprisoned or both.

If you have failed to pay maintenance or child support obligations, the judge can issue a whole range of orders which are designed to compel compliance as well as punish you for violating his or her directives.

Even if your ex doesn’t move to enforce a child support order, the state of New York’s Support Collection Unit (SCU) can take action without court approval to enforce child support orders. The SCU can seize tax refunds, garnish your wages, freeze your bank accounts and report you to credit bureaus and suspend your driving and professional licenses.

If you are subject to orders arising from your divorce and have found that compliance has become difficult or impossible because of changed circumstances or otherwise, don’t simply ignore those orders. Contact an experienced New York divorce attorney who can help you potentially seek a modification or termination of your obligations. That way, you can reduce the likelihood of ticking off the judge.

If you have questions or concerns regarding compliance with or violation of New York divorce orders or any other matters relating to divorce, please give Clement Law a call at (212) 683-9551 of fill out our online form to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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