A common question asked is, “Why won’t the judge do anything when the other side doesn’t follow the order?” Well, the sad truth is that while an order in Minnesota is supposed to be followed and the police are often times supposed to enforce the order, all too often a judge’s signed order is ignored.
Who is to blame? Is it the Judge for not doing anything when brought to his or her attention? Is it the lawyer, who despite an ethical obligation to not counsel a client to disobey a court order, does so anyway? Is it the person ignoring the order who knows darn well what is expected? I believe the problem lies in all three people. Let’s look at them one by one.
Judges are often criticized for not making people follow orders; however, the problem with this argument is that while it is true a person may be disobeying a small portion of an order, it may not be considered a “big deal” by the Judge. Remember, Judges deal with murder, rape, drug dealers, and other terrible cases every single day, often dealing with the absolute worst members of our society. So, when it comes to hearing about how your ex is 15 whole minutes late in picking up little Jimmy, I think some latitude can be given when the Judge doesn’t view this as such an egregious wrong as you may. The other aspect is that the Judge may realize that no matter what they order it may not be followed and Judges in Minnesota like to have their orders followed.
Some Judges do get very upset, but it is my experience that in divorce and family law cases in Mankato and Southern Minnesota, the Judges don’t often “throw the book” at a person who commits a technical violation of an order.
Some lawyers have a very real belief that they are doing “God’s Work.” For example, there is a local attorney who fancies himself a father’s rights attorney and believes the entire system is stacked against men (any questions about this see my post about father’s rights). And while I don’t know first hand, I have a very sneaking suspicion that he tells his clients about the above mentioned paragraph, that the Judge is wrong and probably won’t do anything anyway, so go ahead and violate the order.
There is not a lot you can do to stop this. Your lawyer should be aware of it and be prepared to deal with it in the proper fashion, but aside from that, there isn’t a lot to do. My suggestion is to document it and tell your lawyer immediately when this happens. Then you can consider contempt motions and other tactics.
The Other Person (your ex)
Just like some attorneys feel they are doing God’s Work, many times when it comes to divorce and children or even alimony, the other side feels the order is so wrong they have a moral obligation to not obey it. The same thing is true with lawyers, you need to document it and tell your lawyer when this happens.
The bottom line is it doesn’t really matter who’s fault it is, but if you are thinking about not following a court’s order, you need to be aware that there are consequences such as:
– Attorney’s fees
– Loss of parenting time
– Possibly jail
– Other sanctions
As you can see, ignoring a court order, while it may take a while to feel the penalty, might result in punishment. It’s hard to be much more specific than this because every Judge is different and every case has very unique facts. For example: not paying a car payment because you do not have the money is very different from not dropping off your child with your ex because you didn’t feel like it. Each may be dealt with very differently in Minnesota Courts
Information obtained in mankatofamilylaw.com may contain knowledgable content about Minnesota Family Law that may be considered beneficial to some; however, in no way should this website or its contents be considered legal advice. Mr. Kohlmeyer is a Minnesota licensed Attorney and cannot provide legal services or guidance to those outside of Minnesota. If you wish to retain Mr. Kohlmeyer as your Attorney in your Family Law matter, contact 507-625-5000.