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When can you hold your ex in contempt of court?

Of course, everyone hopes that after their divorce is finalized, their ex-spouse will comply with the terms they've agreed upon. However, too often, that's not the case. Fortunately, there are legal steps that you can take if your ex isn't living up to the terms -- whether it involves child or spousal support, visitation or custody or any other matter spelled out in your documents. A divorce decree, after all, is a court order.

One too-common issue is when an ex-spouse does not pay the spousal and/or child support ordered. Initially, non-support problems are dealt with in civil court. Maryland family law attorneys know the proper course of action for pursuing a non-support claim.

Under Maryland law, a person's wages may be garnished for alimony payments or child support. Other sources of income, such as Social Security benefits and tax refunds, may be taken if needed.

Maryland state law, which is essentially the same as that laid out in the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, allows a higher rate of garnishment for child support and alimony than for other types of debts. As much as 60 percent may be taken out.

Another way to try to legally enforce the terms of a divorce decree is to file a motion for what is called "civil contempt of court." This can be done for any type of non-compliance -- not just for failure to pay support. When such a motion is filed, the court will bring in the ex-spouse in order to work to resolve the situation.

Obviously, it's not in anyone's best interests to have to go back to court if a matter of non-compliance can be resolved with the help of the parties' attorneys. However, in some cases, legal action is the only resolution. Your attorney can advise you of all of your options.

Source: FindLaw, "3 Potential Ways to Enforce a Divorce Decree," Betty Wang, J.D., accessed Feb. 09, 2016

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