Enforcement of Missouri Divorce Decrees: Contempt of Court Proceedings.

When a Missouri divorce is concluded, and the Judgment Decree is signed by the judge, regardless of whether the case was settled or tried by the court, the parties are expected to follow the order. While most people do, there are always those who choose to test their luck by not following terms of the order. If that happens, there are few options, such as demand letters, law enforcement, and the child support enforcement division, that require little effort or investment of money. However, many times these efforts fail, leaving the Court’s civil contempt power as the last, but effective, option.

In order for a party to a case to be found in contempt, there must be clear evidence of an open, willful, and deliberate intent of a party to violate the Court’s order. With most Courts, this is a very serious and high standard, but if a person is found in civil contempt, they can be incarcerated until the violations are cured. Most of the time though, the Court will stay the execution of the order for incarceration, and give the offending party the opportunity to cure the contempt. Also, if found in contempt, the offending party will usually be required to reimburse the other party for attorney fees and the costs of the case.

The following types of orders can be enforced with a civil contempt action:

  • Property division orders
  • Debt payment orders
  • Retirement account divisions
  • Spousal support orders
  • Child support orders, including related expenses such as medical, activity, etc.
  • Parenting schedules
  • Money judgments, such as settlement payments, property equalizations, and attorney fees.