Enforcing Court Orders
Updated March 2017 Fact Sheet PDF
You can file a Motion for Contempt with the court. The filing fee is $50, but if you win, the court may force the person refusing to follow the Order to reimburse you your costs and fees.
Motions for Contempt
When the court makes an order, the court does that with the full force and authority of the state of Arkansas, and the order is the law. If someone disobeys the order, the court has the power to hold that person in “contempt of court.” When you file a motion for contempt, you tell the court that the other person has disobeyed the order.
After you file your motion for contempt, the court will issue an Order to Show Cause, which orders the person not following the court’s order to appear in court and explain why they are not in contempt of court.
After a hearing, if the court decides that the other party did not follow its order, the court may fine the other party, put the other party in jail until they agree to follow the order, and order the other person to pay your court costs.
It is best to do these things, if there is not an emergency, before you file the motion:
- get a copy of the court order from the court clerk
- find the other party’s current address
- send a letter to the other party by certified mail, return receipt requested, demanding that they comply with the order
- if the opposing party does not comply with the demand letter, you can go to the next step
When writing your motion for contempt:
- have the sample motion included in the packet to use as a guide in writing your motion
- make sure the caption of your case is correct—the caption is the top part of the order with the court information, the parties’ names, and the case number
Attach supporting document to the motion:
- a copy of the order you want to enforce, labeled “Exhibit A”
- a copy of your demand letter, labeled “Exhibit B”
- the return receipt “green card” from your demand letter, stapled to a blank, white sheet of paper, labeled “Exhibit C”
Put together the completed, original motion and the exhibits (in order). Then, make two copies and staple each set.
File your motion:
- gather the three sets and a completed Order to Show Cause
- write a check or money order to the court clerk for $50 to reopen the case
- take the motions, order, and check or money order to the circuit clerk’s office
- ask the clerk to file the motion—the clerk will stamp your motions and give two copies back to you
- you will need to find out from the clerk’s office when a judge will be there so you can get your Order to Show Cause signed or you can mail a copy to the judge assigned to your case
- if a judge reviews your motion immediately and signs the order, you will probably be given the signed order and then will take it to the sheriff’s office to have it served
- if a judge does not review your motion right away, you may need to call the judge’s case coordinator later to see if your motion is granted
Tips for Success
- use the sample demand letter to write your letter, and be specific about how the adverse party is disobeying the court and what they should be doing
- attach a copy of the order to your letter
- keep the return receipt when you receive it from the post office
This fact sheet is a collaboration of the Center for Arkansas Legal Services and Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc. These nonprofit organizations provide free legal assistance to eligible Arkansans who meet income, asset, and other guidelines. Legal assistance may also include advice and counsel, brief services, or full representation depending on the situation. For more information about civil legal aid in Arkansas, please visit arlegalservices.org. For information specific to Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc., visit arlegalaid.org. Apply for services online or by calling 1-800-9-LAW-AID (1-800-952-9243).
The information and statements of law in this fact sheet should not be considered legal advice. This fact sheet is provided as a broad guide to help you understand how certain legal matters are handled in general. Courts may interpret the law differently. Before you take action, talk to an attorney and follow his or her advice. Always do what the court tells you to do.
Content provided by: Legal Aid of Arkansas, Inc.