Divorce can involve multiple temporary or permanent court orders with which individuals must comply. Sometimes people get angry about these orders or confused by them, but one thing everyone must understand is that there are penalties for violating them.Below, we discuss various ways people violate court orders and what the penalties are for doing so.


Divorce can trigger two types of financial support orders: child support and spousal support. Some of the common ways people violate these orders:

  • Failing to make payments in full
  • Wrongfully withholding payments
  • Misusing funds
  • Withholding support because of custody violations

If you or your ex engages in this type of misconduct, there can be consequences. Depending on the order and violation details, a person could face wage garnishment, license suspension, and potentially jail time for contempt of court.


Violating a custody or visitation order can endanger the welfare of a child and put a parent’s rights in jeopardy. Common types of offenses include:

  • Failing to bring a child to the other parent on time
  • Leaving the state or country with the child without permission
  • Violating religious, medical or academic terms of a parenting plan
  • Keeping a child from the other parent because of unpaid support

These are serious violations and can result in aggressive enforcement actions such as arrest and loss of parental rights. Criminal charges like kidnapping could also be possible in some cases.


If there are safety concerns during a divorce, the courts may grant a protective order. These orders can require a potentially dangerous party to leave home, stay away from the other party or stop specific actions.

Too often, people violate these orders by:

  • Calling, stalking or otherwise harassing someone
  • Refusing to leave a restricted space
  • Attempting to contact children outside of approved times
  • Making threats or physically assaulting someone

Under these circumstances, a person in violation of a protective order could face misdemeanor charges, fines and jail time.


It is never wise to defy a court order. If you have concerns that your ex or you might not follow the rules or are unsure what an order means, seeking legal clarification and guidance as soon as possible is essential.