Post-Judgment Enforcement: Injunction and Contempt of Court in California

Understanding Post-Judgment Enforcement

After a court issues its judgment, it’s essential for all parties involved to adhere to the court’s directives, be it payment of alimony, child support,  adhering to custody arrangements, or property division.. When a party fails to comply, the aggrieved party has legal tools at their disposal to ensure enforcement. There several ways to enforce a judgment or court order: injuction or contempt of court. 

Injunctions: A Preventative Measure

An injunction is a court order requiring an individual to do or not do a specific action. In the context of family law:

1. Prohibitory Injunctions: A prohibitory injunction is a legal remedy that does not mandate any specific action but instead serves to maintain the current status quo.

2. Mandatory Injunctions: A mandatory injunction is a legal remedy that compels the defendant to undertake affirmative actions.

Contempt of Court: Addressing Non-Compliance

Contempt of court constitutes misconduct and is subject to potential penalties of imprisonment for up to one year and fines of up to $1,000 per day for each instance of non-compliance with a court-imposed restriction. A misdemeanor conviction pursuant to California Penal Code 166 carries a maximum penalty of up to one year of incarceration.

Statute of Limitation for Contempt of Court

Violations related to support orders are subject to a statute of limitations of three years. This means that any legal action alleging violations of support orders must be initiated within three years from the date of the first missed payment. For all other contempt actions, a two-year statute of limitations applies, requiring that any legal proceedings for contempt must commence within two years from the date on which the alleged contempt occurred.

Seeking Relief through California Courts

If you believe a party is violating a court order:

1. Document Everything: Keep records of any violations. For instance, if it’s related to visitation rights, maintain a log of every denied visit.

2. Consult with an Attorney: Before taking any legal action, consult with a family law attorney familiar with California’s laws. They can guide you on the best course of action.

3. File a Motion: Your attorney will help you file a motion with the court detailing the violation and seeking appropriate remedies.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

In California, the penalties for not adhering to court orders can be severe:

– Fines: The court can impose monetary penalties for non-compliance.
– Jail Time: In extreme cases, especially for repeated violations, jail time can be ordered.
– Adjustments to Court Orders: The court may revise existing orders, such as custody arrangements, based on the violating party’s behavior.

Writ of Execution in California

A crucial tool in post-judgment enforcement, especially in California, is the ‘Writ of Execution.’ This legal order authorizes the seizure of assets belonging to a judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment. In the realm of family law, a Writ of Execution can be particularly beneficial when a party refuses to pay child support, alimony, or any other court-ordered financial obligation.

Once the court issues a Writ of Execution, the local sheriff or marshal has the authority to take possession of the debtor’s non-exempt assets. These can be sold, and the proceeds will be used to pay off the owed amount. Assets that can be seized under a Writ of Execution include bank accounts, receivables, and even personal property.

For those seeking to obtain a Writ of Execution in California, it’s essential to remember that there are specific procedures and timelines to follow. It’s not as straightforward as simply requesting the court to issue the writ. Documentation such as proof of the judgment and details of the debtor’s assets might be required.

Moreover, the judgment creditor is responsible for providing accurate information regarding the debtor’s assets. Misinformation can lead to legal complications and potential penalties. It’s also worth noting that while a Writ of Execution is a powerful tool, it’s not always the best or only solution. In some cases, alternative methods like wage garnishment or placing liens on properties might be more effective.


Understanding post-judgment enforcement is crucial for anyone involved in a family law case in California. The state’s laws aim to ensure fairness and adherence to court orders. If you or someone you know is facing issues related to non-compliance with court directives, it’s essential to seek legal counsel promptly.

Note: Always ensure your actions are in line with California’s legal standards. This article is informational and should not replace professional legal advice.

Are you facing a separation, divorce, child custody or child support battle in the California? Contact attorney Maya Gaziev

Maya Gaziev

Founder, Lead Attorney

Maya Gaziev, Esq., is the founder and principal attorney at SD Law Center. A distinguished trial family lawyer, Maya’s unwavering commitment to justice and her clients is at the heart of her practice.

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