In the legal system, a decree is a court order. The enforcement of decrees requires a separate legal proceeding whereby the court or judge is asked to affirm a prior Court order that has not happened. A court can only enforce decrees or orders that are final.

For example, the court awards spousal support of $500/month on 6/1/03. If on 12/1/03, the person is not paying spousal support, the person not receiving payments can go back to Court and force the other party to pay. The unpaid party is enforcing their original decree, that is, the award of $500/month in spousal support.

How Is a Decree Enforced?

Most parties voluntarily comply with court orders. However, if a party willfully defies the court, the judge may take the following actions:

  • Hold a hearing to discover why the order is ignored.
  • Order the party’s wages garnished.
  • Hold the party in contempt of court – this may result in jail time.

Situations in which the Enforcement of a Decree is Necessary

The enforcement of a decree is common in family law cases involving:

Should I Consult with an Attorney to Have a Family Decree Enforced?

Speaking with a family lawyer will enable you to understand your rights and to preserve any possible remedies you may have. Moreover, in most cases, the court will award court costs including attorney fees for the party seeking enforcement of the decree.