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Enforcing Your Order

What can I do if the opposing party isn't following the order?

When the opposing party is not following a court order, generally the first step is to file a written request to the opposing party asking them to do what the order says by a specific date. Keep a copy of your written request and any written response you receive. Hopefully he/she will follow the order and you won't need to go back to court.

If he or she does not cooperate, the next step is to let the court know by filing a motion. The type of motion depends on the specifics of what the court ordered and what the opposing party did or didn't do about following the order. Your motion usually asks the court to issue an order telling the opposing party to do something specific.

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What can the judge do to get the opposing party to follow the order?

Before the judge can order anything further, you have to file a motion letting the court know the opposing party isn't following the order by filing a motion. Depending on what you ask for in your motion and what the opposing party did to violate the order, the judge may issue a new order stating the opposing party:

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What forms can I use to ask the court to enforce an order?

You can file:

If you want the opposing party to pay unpaid medical expenses, you can attach:

In the Motion & Affidavit to Enforce Order, discuss:

Please read the Motion Practice section to understand how to file a motion. What forms to file depends on the specifics of your order. Call the Family Law Self-Help Center to discuss what other forms which may be appropriate.

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How do I get the opposing party to pay me money that was ordered?

You can first make a request to the opposing party to pay you the amount that was ordered by a specific date. It is helpful to make the request in writing and keep a copy. Hopefully he/she will pay you and then you don't need to go back to court. If he or she refuses to pay, you have two options:

1. You can file a Motion & Affidavit to Enforce Order and ask the court to order the other side to pay. Attach your written request and any response you got back. The court may hold a hearing and issue another order specifically telling the other side to pay by a specific date.

2. You can file a Motion & Affidavit to Reduce to Judgment, asking the court to issue a judgment for the amount owed to you. Once you have a judgment, you can try to collect the amount by executing on the debtor's Permanent Fund Dividend, bank account, wages, etc.

If the opposing party was ordered to pay for part of your child(ren)'s medical expenses that weren't covered by insurance, you can attach to the Motion:

Read more about collecting money once you get a judgment.

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How do I get the other parent to pay uncovered medical expenses?

If the court issued a Child Support Order, form DR-300 PDF | Fill-In PDF, it usually includes a section that states who will pay any unpaid or uncovered medical expenses for the children. It is common for the Child Support Order to say that the parents will split any unpaid or uncovered medical expenses, although some orders state one parent is responsible to pay a higher percentage than the other parent. It is important that the parent who either received the medical bill or paid the health care provider notifies the other parent of the amount due within a reasonable amount of time and provides them with a copy of the bill and any Explanation of Benefits from the insurance company stating how much was covered. If the other parent has not paid their share after being notified, you can file:

The court can issue a specific Order for the parent to pay the unpaid medical expenses.

You can also file a Motion & Affidavit to Reduce to Judgment, asking the court to issue a judgment for the amount owed to you if you have paid the full amount. Once you have a judgment, you can try to collect the amount by executing on the debtor's Permanent Fund Dividend, bank account, wages, etc.

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How do I get visits with my child as stated in the order?

It depends on what the order says specifically about the visitation and what you want to happen. If the order states you are to have visits according to a specific schedule and the other parent hasn't cooperated, you can file a Motion to Enforce the Visitation Schedule. If the order says that visitation is to be worked out by the parties and the other parent hasn't cooperated or you want more certainty, you can file a Motion for a Specific Visitation Schedule. You should include the days and times and other details such as who provides the transportation and where the transfer of the children will happen.

It is important to keep accurate records of all problems with visits – if they don't happen at all, if the dates and times change frequently, if there are issues with the pick up or drop up or transportation. It can be helpful to keep a journal or mark up a calendar, with the dates and times that the other parent did not allow you to have a visit with your children or other problems. This will be helpful if you file something in court.

Depending on what your order states, you can use:

Please read the Motion Practice section to understand how to file a motion. What forms to file depends on the specifics of your order. Call the Family Law Self-Help Center to discuss what other forms which may be appropriate.

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How do I get the opposing party to visit with our child as ordered?

It is difficult to make someone visit with a child even if ordered by a court. It is important to keep records about the visitation so you have accurate information if you file something in court. It can be helpful to keep a journal or mark up a calendar, with the dates and times that the other parent did not follow the order and didn't show up, showed up late or when there were other problems.

If it continues that the visits aren't happening, you may file a Motion to Modify Child Custody depending on what kind of custody and visitation schedule was originally ordered. For example, if the order said both parents had shared custody, but it has turned out that one parent ended up taking care of the children for more than the time in the order, you may be able to modify to a primary custody arrangement. Please read the modification section to see if this is an option for you.

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How do I get the opposing party to pay child support?

If the opposing party isn't paying a child support order, your options depend on:

CSSD collection services

CSSD collects child support when either CSSD or the court issued a child support order and the noncustodial parent lives in Alaska and either parent has applied for CSSD services to collect. CSSD has many tools to collect support, including issuing and enforcing orders to withhold wages. Under a wage-withholding order, an employer is ordered to automatically withhold a noncustodial parent's wages and send the money to the child support agency, which will forward it to the custodial parent. CSSD can also attach bank accounts, intercept IRS tax refunds, Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends and other assets, put liens against property, take away driver's licenses and state occupational licenses and report parents who don't pay to credit bureaus. When a noncustodial parent lives outside Alaska and the custodial parent and child live in Alaska, CSSD sends information about the noncustodial parent to the other state's child support services office. The other state tries to locate the noncustodial parent and collect support.

If you haven't already applied to CSSD to collect support from the opposing party, you can fill out and return to CSSD:

CSSD issued the child support order

Child support orders can be issued either by CSSD or the court. If CSSD issued the order and you have applied for their services to collect support, you can contact CSSD and let them know the other parent isn't paying. Give CSSD as much information as you can about the other parent so it can figure out what is the best enforcement tool to use. For example, let them know the other parent's bank account information if you have it or whether they have an occupational license.

Court issued the child support order

If the court issued the Child Support Order, usually on a DR-300 form, you can file:

The judge may hold a hearing to question the opposing party about why he/she isn't paying the child support.

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Can I get a judgment for the back-owed child support?

Yes, you can ask the court to reduce the money owed which is called "arrears” to a judgment including interest. The judgment will allow you to try to collect the arrears by executing on the debtor's bank account or PFD or other assets.

To collect payment for child support arrears that are at least 30 days past due, you have a couple options. Either you or CSSD can file with the court a motion requesting a judgment for child support arrears.

CSSD files on your behalf

You can ask CSSD to file a Motion & Affidavit to Reduce to Judgment on your behalf. You will have to provide CSSD with information about what the other parent paid and what is still owed and the relevant dates. You can ask for interest on the arrears. AS 25.27.025 sets the interest rate for child support arrears. Sometimes it takes a while for CSSD to file motions because it helps many people. Check with CSSD on the timeline.

You file yourself

You can file forms asking for a judgment:

Read more about collecting money once you get a judgment.

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How do I calculate the pre-judgment interest?

In a Motion & Affidavit to Reduce to Judgment, you can claim pre-judgment interest on the amount owed to you. You must show how the prejudgment interest should be calculated.

  1. First, determine the date the money was due to be paid to you. Your order will likely state the date the payment was due. (This will be the date prejudgment interest begins.)
  2. Next, determine the interest rate. The rate will usually be the rate set by a statutory formula for the year the court enters the judgment in your case. Most debts use the same interest rates (which may change annually), but be aware that interest rates vary for different kinds of debts. In particular, interest rates on child support arrearages are set in AS 25.27.025.
  3. Next, show the court your interest calculations. If you have not have received any payments that were ordered, use the following formula:
    Principal Amount X Interest Rate ÷ 365 X No. of Days = Amount of Interest Due for that Period

    "No. of Days” means the number of days between the date the principal became due and the date you file your motion for a judgment including pre-judgment interest.

  4. Add the interest to the original principal and show the new balance due.

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How can I get my things (personal property) that were ordered in the divorce?

First, make a written request to the opposing party to return the items or for you to be able to pick up the items by a specific date. Make sure you do not violate any no-contact orders that may be in effect in this or a different case. Hopefully he/she will give you the items and you won't need to go back to court. If the opposing party does not cooperate, you can file:

The judge may hold a hearing to question the opposing party about why he/she isn't returning the items ordered in the divorce. The court may order the opposing party to return the items by a specific date.

If the opposing party still refuses to cooperate, you have some options.

You can ask the court to order the opposing party to pay you money instead of the property by issuing a judgment for the amount that the item is valued:

Read more about collecting money once you get a judgment.

You can ask the court for a writ of assistance to pick up that property. If you think you need to ask the court for a writ of assistance, please call the Family Law Self-Help Center to learn about the forms and the process.

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Will the police enforce my order?

In divorce or custody cases, the police generally don't get involved in enforcing most orders.

However, if there is a domestic violence protective order in effect, the police will enforce some parts of that order. Please read the Violations and Enforcement section of How to Represent Yourself in Alaska's Domestic Violence Protective Order Process. Adobe Acrobat PDF logo

Also the police will assist you if the court issues a writ of assistance for the police to help you to get personal property, possession of a home or return of children according to a court order. If you think you need to ask the court for a writ of assistance, please call the Family Law Self-Help Center to learn about the options for forms and the process.

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What if the judge granted my Motion to Enforce and the opposing party still won't follow the order?

It can be very frustrating when the opposing party refuses to follow the court order, even after the judge holds a hearing and tells the party again to do what the order says. What action you can take depends on what issue you want to enforce.

If the opposing party owes you money, you can file a:

Read more about collecting money once you get a judgment.

If you are not getting visits with your child(ren) as ordered, you may file a Motion for Sanctions for Failure to Permit Visitation according to AS 25.20.140. You can use:

If you need police assistance
Depending on what was ordered, you can ask the court to issue a writ of assistance for the police to help you to get personal property, possession of a home or return of children according to a court order. If you think you need to ask the court for a writ of assistance, please call the Family Law Self-Help Center to learn about the options for forms and the process.

Order to Show Cause - Contempt
You can file a Motion for an Order to Show Cause, asking the court to hold the opposing party in contempt of court. This is a serious matter and you should strongly consider talking to a lawyer about whether it is a good idea in your case to ask the court to hold the opposing party in contempt.

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What is contempt?

Willfully disobeying or failing to follow a court order is considered "contempt.” Not following a court order is a very serious matter that can have significant consequences. When a court finds someone to be in civil contempt, it can require various punishments, including a fine of up to $5,000, or issuing a bench warrant to arrest the person.

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How do you get the court to hold someone in contempt?

You should strongly consider talking to a lawyer about whether it is a good idea in your case to ask the court to hold the opposing party in contempt. Depending on the issue in the case, it is possible that the opposing party may be entitled to a jury trial which can be complicated to participate in without an attorney representing you. Also, if you lose the trial, it is possible the court can award the opposing party's costs and fees which you would have to pay.

If you decide to move ahead and ask the court to hold the opposing party in contempt for violating the court's order, the first step is to file a motion requesting that the court issue an Order to Show Cause. An Order to Show Cause orders the party to come to court to "show cause” or explain why the court should not punish him or her for not following the court's previous order or issue a bench warrant for their arrest.

After reading your Motion for an Order to Show Cause, the judge can either:

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What happens at a hearing on an Order to Show Cause?

The purpose of an Order to Show Cause is to for the judge to call in the party to court to explain why he/she is not complying with a court order. From the information provided at the hearing, the judge will decide whether additional court proceedings will happen or an issue appropriate remedy at that time. If the party does not appear at the hearing, the court can issue a civil bench warrant for the party to be arrested.

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How do I enforce an order from another state court?

If you have an order from another court that you want enforced in Alaska, you have to register that order in the Alaska state court in your community. Please read the section on registering out-of-state orders for the forms and procedure.

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Rev. 31 January 2012
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