Anytime you enter into the courtroom, and especially in domestic cases, a lot of otherwise private information becomes public (or before the court), because the court must consider the best interests of the children. Sometimes information comes out that leads to other types of civil or criminal actions, or inherently there is some relief a court must order if the court orders something else (one thing flows from the other).
1. Child Support Modification. Child support modification can be brought as a separate issue all on its own, such as when the payor loses his or her job and income, he or she may ask the court to reduce the child support obligation. However, anytime custody or parenting time is modified, even if a litigant does not pray for a child support modification specifically, child support must be modified. Child support is set based on many factors, such as overnight parenting time, who is the custodial parent and the recipient vs. who is the noncustodial parent and the payor, and number of overnights the obligated parent exercises with the child. Thus, a child support modification inherently flows from any action modifying custody or parenting time.
2. Civil Protective Order. Civil Protective Orders are specifically designed to protect persons who have been the victim of violence or stalking by a family member, or member of their household. Therefore, a spouse, former spouse, or child of the parties are types of relationships specifically contemplated. Sometimes the marriage or relationship has ended because there is violence and a protective order is needed to protect from further violence, harassment or stalking. Other times, litigants use protective orders as tactical moves to restrict communication and parenting time with a child of the parties to gain a leg up on custody.
3. Domestic Violence Criminal Charges: If there has violence in the household, such as domestic abuse, the state/local police may intervene and file criminal charges against the perpetrator. This is the local prosecutor’s decision to pursue. If the judge or jury finds that domestic violence did occur, the perpetrator may face a criminal sentence, including jail or probation. Often courts issue No Contact Orders, which are different than a Civil Protective Order, and completely restrict contact and distance between the perpetrator and victim. This could have significant consequences not only criminally, but also to ability to parent or see the children (even if the children were not present or were not the victims).
4. Contempt. Anytime there is a court order to do something, such as pay child support, or for parenting time, if a litigant fails to follow the court order, he or she could be held in contempt of court. Contempt requires a showing that the violation of the court order is willful and purposeful (not an accident or misunderstanding). A court can issue sanctions to the wrongful actor, such as paying the other side’s attorney fees, or make up parenting time.
5. Domestic Torts. Tort cases are otherwise known as personal injury cases. Domestic Torts can arise when one spouse has inflicted injury upon the other, such as in cases of domestic violence, or even transmission of a venereal disease. The remedy for same lies in tort law and not the traditional Dissolution Act for separation of property or spousal support, and insurance carriers could become involved as with any other tort action.
We hope that you have found this information to be helpful in understanding companion cases and issues that could arise in divorce or paternity actions. This is not intended to be legal advice. If you have questions or concerns about your specific case, Dixon & Moseley, P.C. can help evaluate your specific case. This blog post was written by Attorney, Lori B. Schmeltzer.