A Motion to Enforce vs. Motion for Contempt in Florida: What’s the Difference?
If there is a court order after your divorce and your former spouse refuses or fails to comply with it, you may be thinking about filing a Motion to Enforce or a Motion for Contempt in Florida. But what is the difference between the two?
The Difference Between a Motion to Enforce and a Motion for Contempt
Many divorcees in Florida do not know the difference between a Motion for Civil Contempt/Enforcement. The lack of understanding can create obstacles in your case, which is why you should consult with an Orlando family attorney to review your situation before filing any motion.
The two fundamental things a petitioner will have to prove when filing a Motion to Enforce or a Motion for Contempt are:
- Proof of the existing order issued by a court; and
- Evidence that the other party failed to comply with the court order.
The biggest difference between the two is that a Motion to Enforce is used to enforce an order of equitable distribution in Florida. A Motion for Contempt, on the other hand, is filed when a party fails to meet their court-ordered financial obligations.
When Can You File a Motion to Enforce in Florida?
In Florida, you can file a Motion to Enforce when your ex-spouse fails or refuses to comply with a court order of equitable distribution (property and debt division). Thus, enforcement can be used when the other party fails or refuses to:
- Pay their share of the marital debt;
- Distribute the awarded proceeds from a retirement account; and
- Refinance a mortgage.
You cannot file a Motion for Contempt if your former spouse does not comply with an order of equitable distribution. The Florida Constitution protects the rights and protections of individuals and spares them from punishment for their failure or inability to pay a debt.
Florida law classifies the distributed assets and debts as “debts” that are exempt from contempt orders.
When Can You File a Motion for Contempt?
A Motion for Contempt can be filed when the other party fails to meet their financial obligations. Since the payments of child support and alimony are not classified as debts, you can file a Motion for Contempt when your ex-spouse fails or refuses to pay spousal or child support or fulfill any other court-ordered obligations.
Contempt can be civil or criminal. Civil contempt refers to when a party fails to comply with a court order, while civil contempt occurs when a party disregards a court order in the presence of the court itself.
In Florida, a person who is found to be in contempt may face penalties, including fines and imprisonment. Either way, seek help from a knowledgeable divorce attorney in Orlando to file a Motion for Contempt or Enforcement on your behalf. A skilled lawyer will protect your rights and ensure that your former spouse obeys court orders.
Schedule a consultation with our family law attorneys at Greater Orlando Family Law to discuss your particular case and begin the process of Enforcement or Contempt in Florida. Call our law firm at 407-377-6399 to receive a consultation.