When you finalize your divorce agreement with your spouse, you hope that you don’t have to end up in a courtroom with them again. Even when you encounter the inevitable disagreements and confusion over some of the provisions, you can probably work them out together.
However, there are times when you may need to go to court to enforce one of your agreements. This is typically done by filing a petition alleging contempt of court. That sounds like a serious allegation – and it is. However, if they’re intentionally defying a court order, that’s the appropriate term.
Let’s look at some of the most common reasons for divorce-related contempt of court petitions.
Nonpayment of child or spousal support
If your ex isn’t making the payments they were ordered to make on-time and in full, that can have a serious impact on your and your children’s financial well-being. If someone isn’t voluntarily making these payments, a judge can order their wages to be garnished and/or penalize them in a variety of ways, including sending them to jail.
Failure to turn over marital property
How marital property would be divided in the divorce should have been included in the divorce agreement. If your spouse has failed to turn over your share of that property or your own property that you brought into the marriage, you can use something called a replevin action. That allows you to recover property that was wrongfully kept or taken from you. If your ex is failing to hand over something value, either monetarily or sentimentally, that’s is rightfully yours, this may be your only option.
Failing to pay their portion of shared debt
If you have joint credit cards, loans or lines of credit, it’s wise to detail in the divorce agreement who is responsible for paying how much on each. If your ex isn’t paying the agreed-on amount, you could find your own credit score in jeopardy and on the hook for the full amount. That’s why you may need the court to intervene.
The more items you can get included in your divorce agreements, the more incentive your ex has to comply. A verbal or handshake agreement can be difficult to enforce. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable guidance during and after your divorce.