How can you enforce a Court Order?

During the pendency of litigation, the Court may issue numerous orders with which both
you and your spouse must comply. In addition, after a case has been resolved, either
by agreement or after a trial, the Court will issue a final Entry. If your spouse or former
spouse fails to comply with an Order of the Court, you can bring it to the Court’s attention
by filing a Motion to Show Cause (also called a Motion for Contempt) against your spouse
or former spouse. Generally speaking, this Motion must detail, with specificity, which
provisions of the Order your spouse or former spouse has failed to comply with.

After the Motion has been filed and your spouse or former spouse has been served with a
copy of the Motion, the issue will be set for review by the Court. Sometimes the filing of
the Motion is sufficient incentive for a spouse or former spouse to comply with an Order.
However, if that is not the case and the Court determines that your spouse or former
spouse is in contempt, the Court can order your spouse or former spouse to comply. In
addition, if your spouse or former spouse is found to be in contempt, the Court can order
them to pay your legal fees incurred in filing and pursuing the Motion.

If the issue is failure to pay child and/or spousal support, you can also contact the Child
Support Enforcement Agency for enforcement help.

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What is the Child Support Enforcement Agency?

The Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) is an administrative agency which is
offered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The Child Support
Enforcement Agency collects and distributes child support payments in the State of Ohio.

The CSEA also offers a variety of other services, including establishing paternity,
establishing support orders, modifying and/or terminating support orders, and enforcing
support orders. The CSEA is also responsible for collecting and distributing spousal
support payments if parties chose or the Court orders such payment to go through the

Although its’ headquarters are located in Columbus, each individual county in Ohio has
its’ own CSEA office. You can contact the CSEA at (800)686-1556 or go to their website at for further information.

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What is a Guardian ad Litem?

A Guardian ad Litem is an attorney, psychologist or social worker who has been appointed
by the Domestic Relations or Juvenile Court to represent a child in a legal proceeding and/
or to advise the Court as to what they believe is in the child’s best interests. Individuals
who serve as a Guardian ad Litem have completed training provided by the Ohio Supreme
Court. Further, each county has additional requirements which individuals must meet in
order to serve as a Guardian ad Litem in that county.

There are many reasons why a Guardian ad Litem may be appointed. In some cases, one or
both of the parties may feel that a Guardian is needed to fully represent the child’s wishes
and/or interests. In some cases, the Court may be concerned about a parent’s behavior and
feel further investigation is necessary. Sometimes a Guardian ad Litem is chosen simply
from the list of approved Guardians; other times, the parties and their counsel are allowed
to mutually agree upon a Guardian.

A Guardian ad Litem must conduct his or her investigation in accordance with
Superintendence Rule 48 which includes interviewing the parties and the child, observing
the child with each party, and obtaining school and medical records. The extent of the
Guardian ad Litem’s investigation depends upon the facts and issues in each particular

A Guardian ad Litem is paid based upon an hourly rate (the same as most domestic
relations attorneys); however, the hourly rate for a Guardian ad Litem is typically less than
that of an attorney and varies by county. A determination as to the division of the Guardian
ad Litem’s fees is typically made by the Court or by agreement of the parties at the end of
the case.

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What is the Difference Between a Judge and a Magistrate

A Judge is an attorney who is elected by the people of a county.  A Magistrate is an attorney who has been appointed by the court.  Judges have the discretion to refer cases to their Magistrates in order to allow the Judges to handle a larger caseload in a more efficient manner.  In an Ohio divorce, whether your case is heard by a Judge or a Magistrate can depend on the specific type of case, the county that you are in, or luck of the draw.  In some Ohio counties, all domestic relations cases are heard by a Magistrate and the Judge hears only Objections.  In other counties, a Magistrate may be assigned to hear a specific aspect of a case (ie. temporary support, post-decree issues, or domestic violence issues).

If your case is heard by a Magistrate, the decision of the Magistrate (either called a Magistrate’s Decision or a Magistrate’s Order, depending on the issue) will include a recommendation to the Judge as to what the final order should be.  If you do not agree with the decision of the Magistrate, you can file an objection to the decision.  If no objections are made or, after considering any objections that are made, the Judge then issues a Judgment Entry in the matter.  If you disagree with a Judgment Entry, you can file an appeal with the court of appeals for that county.  There are procedural and time requirements for filing both objections and appeals which must be followed.

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What are Temporary Restraining Orders

A Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) is a court order that prohibits one or both of the parties from doing certain things during the pendency of a case.  A TRO is usually issued at the beginning of a case and stays in effect until it is either modified by the Court or the case ends.  A TRO can be the result of a request by one of the parties or a mutual TRO can be issued by the court at the beginning of a case.  A mutual TRO restrains both parties.  A TRO can also restrain a third party defendant to a case, such as a financial institution, from allowing one or both of the parties to do something (ie. withdraw money from a retirement account).  In an Ohio divorce, TRO’s typically prohibit dissipating assets, harassing the other party, incurring debt, changing or cancelling insurance coverage, and/or permanently removing minor children from the county in which the TRO is issued.

As a domestic relations attorney, I typically have clients tell me that they do not want to request a TRO against their spouse either because they do not believe that their spouse would do those types of things or because they do not want to anger their spouse.  However, TRO’s are common in divorce cases.  Most attorneys do not draft requests for TRO’s containing any information specific to the parties or accusing the other party of doing anything wrong.  TRO’s are simply a form of protection against one party doing something inappropriate or detrimental during a highly emotional time in their life.

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