Colorado family law and the court system provide legally-binding decisions on all matters pertaining to divorce, separation, and asset division. Ideally, everyone involved respects the given orders and conforms with them. However, compliance may not always be a “given”.
If you are dealing with an ex who refuses to follow court orders, you are understandably frustrated. Thankfully, you have a legal mechanism for dealing with such issues, called the motion to enforce.
What is a Motion to Enforce in Colorado?
A motion to enforce a court order is a document your attorney files with the court to notify them that the other party is not complying with the court-made provisions. In Colorado, the monition to enforce covers the following types of orders:
- Child support and custody
- Parenting time and visitation
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Transfer of property and titles for joint property
By filing the motion to enforce, you inform the court about the issues and prompt the judge to pursue one of the following actions:
- Issuing new court orders.
- Requiring the non-compliant party to pay attorney’s fees.
- Sending the parties to mediation.
- Fining the non-compliant party or issuing a contempt of court citation.
Motion to Enforce the Litigant's Rights
Apart from the above, you can also petition the Colorado court to ask the offending party to cover your legal fees and other costs, incurred due to incompliance. This option is called a motion to enforce the litigant's rights. Such motions can also be part of the divorce proceedings and/or filed together with enforcing delinquent child support payments.
Note, however, that some overdue child support payments cannot be collected if they are protected by the Colorado child support statute of limitations.
How to File For a Motion to Enforce
The process for filing the motion to enforce is similar for most types of orders. The key difference is in the type of forms you’ll need to complete and provide to the court clerk. It’s best to have a family attorney to help you with that.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough:
- Download and complete the required forms. These are available online on the Colorado court website. Keep one copy for yourself, and make a another one for the other party.
- File the completed forms with the court. Filing the motion is free, but you may incur associated administrative fees e.g. for transcription or certification.
- Provide the other party with a copy of the motion by mail.
- Wait for further updates from the court on hearings or direct rulings.
At this point, the court will review the documents submitted. They may issue a new order based on the information you provided, send you and your ex to mediation, or schedule a hearing where both of you may present your case.
Motion to Enforce vs Motion For Contempt: The Difference
Motion for contempt is a more severe legal action of petitioning the court to hold the other person in civil contempt or criminal contempt for their non-compliance. Motion for contempt can actually result in jail time.
Many people opt to pursue a motion to enforce instead of a motion for contempt for several reasons. The process for doing so is much simpler. Motions to enforce don’t require personal service and such cases are resolved faster.
Finally, filing a motion to enforce a divorce decree order is generally intended to seek resolution. A motion for contempt can be remedial or punitive. The latter seeks to punish the other party for their failure to comply.
Leveraging a Colorado Family Law Attorney
If you need assistance from the courts in dealing with a spouse who won’t comply with parenting time or child support orders, consider filing a motion to enforce. In many instances, this is the easiest path to resolve the issue without resorting to methods that involve more time and effort. Consult with a family law attorney to learn if this course of action is best in your case.