What Happens If One Of The Parties Involved In a Court Order Lives Out Of State?

Legally that does not change things most of the time, if one of the parties in a court order lives out of state. Normally, it is just a matter of logistical complications rather than legal complications. For example, a court may require a party to be served formally by a process server at the order to show cause. Ordinarily, that is not required, but sometimes a court will require out of an abundance of caution. If that happens, then the logistical problems of finding a process server or locating the other party may become an issue. If the Office of Recovery Services is involved on a child support issue, then the Utah office may reach out to the other state’s equivalent office, and ask that office to register the Utah order in the other state to file an order and show cause in the other state.

Any court order from any state, if properly registered, can be enforced in any other state. For example, if there is a Kansas decree of divorce that is properly registered here in Utah, any party can register that order here(it is not a complicated procedure), and then file an order to show cause in Utah to have the other party who lives here held in contempt for failure to comply with the Kansas order. They do not necessarily have to go back to Kansas to do that. The court in Utah would not be able to change the orders in any way, but does have the authority to enforce a sister state’s orders.

How Serious Is It To Be Held In Contempt For Failing To Comply With A Court Order?

If a party is found to be non-compliant, or in contempt of court, they will have “unclean hands,” it can be serious. If they ask the court for relief through a petition, or a motion, the court may be less inclined to grant that relief, because they have unclean hands. The potential sanctions against them could be severe. If the order to show cause is held before a court commissioner, the court commissioner has the authority to have the non-compliant party incarcerated for up to five days. If it is held before a judge, the judge has the authority to incarcerate the non-compliant party for up to thirty days. In addition, the prevailing party in an order to show cause will often be granted their attorney’s fees, which may depend on how complicated the order to show reveals, and these issues costs thousands of dollars.

Then, of course there are the other potential sanctions that the court can order. So yes, they should be taken very seriously.

How Practical Is It For Someone To Try And Handle An Order To Show Cause Without An Attorney?

It is possible to handle an order without representation, but difficult, and not recommended. The various rules, and case law surrounding enforcement of court orders are sometimes complex, and the way that those rules, and cases interact with one another, are also complex. The potential consequences for failing to do it right can be far reaching.

How Important Is It To Hire An Experienced Attorney To Handle An Order To Show Cause?

Any experienced family law attorney will have experience filing or defending against orders to show cause. If you want an order to show cause to be filed in a family law, or a domestic case, and if the attorney you retained is experienced with family law, then generally, they will also be experienced with orders to show cause. Therefore, it is important to have an experienced attorney that understands the court’s thinking, reasoning, and what the court is likely to do or not to do in the circumstances of a particular case. Orders to Show Cause are not so specialized an area of law that attorneys take only Order to Show Cause cases. It is not like some DUI attorneys where all they do is DUI case work. Family law attorneys develop that particular expertise, and any experienced family law attorney will have the knowledge to do so.

Helpful Tips For Both Parties Involved In An Order To Show Cause

If the court order was the result of a stipulation; an agreement between the parties, the court is going to assume that any available evidence that existed at the time that the time the agreement was entered into would have supported entry in that same order. In other words, if a party agrees to something, they won’t be able to argue later that they really did not have the ability to comply with the agreed-upon order at the time that they entered into the agreement. The court is going to assume that if you agree to something, you know what you are doing, and you have the ability to comply. Parties should not enter into agreements that they cannot comply with, and then expect the court not to enforce that order.

The court will enforce it, because it will assume that the parties have the ability to comply, unless there have been demonstrable changed circumstances from the time that the parties entered into the agreement, or after that time. Sometimes people file an order to show cause, and asking the court to do through the backdoor what it lacks the ability to do through the front door. What I mean by that is they will file an OSC asking the court to change or modify court orders, rather than or in addition to enforcing existing court orders. But the purpose of an OSC is not to change court orders, but to enforce existing orders. If a party files an order to show, and in any way asks for the court orders to be changed, they are following the wrong procedure, and the court will not likely change the court order.

Instead of a person wishing to change their court order, they should file a Petition to Modify the court order demonstrating changed circumstances from the date of the original order.

For more information on Out Of State Orders To Show Cause, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 616-3301 today.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children