GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – When you file for a divorce there is an initial period of time when the normal routine of who in the marriage is responsible for what is in upheaval. It becomes the job of the attorneys to ask the court to decide issues on maintaining the home, paying bills, visitation, support, and other necessary items in order for both spouses to function while the divorce is ongoing and the couple negotiates how they will divide their assets and split their lives. The court makes these determinations based on the motions brought before the court by both of the attorneys who represent the two sides in the case.
There are so many motions before the court every week that one day per week is usually dubbed ‘motion day’. An attorney files a motion for a specific subject to be decided and both sides argue their case of what they think is fair and equitable. After listening to both sides, the judge will determine what the court will order. The court order spells out the solution to whatever subject of the motion was. For instance, if the motion is to ask that the wife be allowed full use of the marital residence while the divorce is in progress, the order may award full use of the house to the wife until an agreement is reached between the couple as to who gets to keep the house or whether it will be sold and the proceeds distributed. It may even specify who has to maintain the upkeep of the premises, pay the insurance and taxes, etc., until that agreement is reached.
Using the example of the use of the house, let’s say the husband is told he must leave and give the wife exclusive use of the house during the divorce. He refuses to leave and ignores the court order and she is faced with an angry soon-to-be ex living in the same space. The solution is a Show Cause Motion.
A Show Cause Motion is exactly what it sound like. The women’s attorney would bring a motion in front of the court asking that the husband show cause why he did not comply with the court order. Unless he has an extremely good reason, it is likely he will be held in contempt of court. The judge now has the ability to levy a fine, attorney fees for making the opposing counsel come to court for the motion, or even jail time as a punishment for ignoring his order.
Needless to say, judges do not take contempt of court lightly. Keep in mind that being called into court for a Show Cause Motion is not something you want to do as it is likely to influence the judge on other aspects of your case. Defying a court order can do nothing but harm your chances of ensuring you get what you want from your divorce.
Nothing here in constitutes a legal opinion.