Once a judge makes a final decision concerning a divorce, the terms and arrangements immediately become enforceable and must be upheld by the parties involved.
If one party stops complying with the divorce agreement, the other can go to court and seek enforcement of the agreement.
What Can Be Enforced?
The only terms that you can seek an enforcement for are those specifically stated in the agreement. If you and your ex-partner built upon the court document with verbal modifications, you cannot seek enforcement, as they won’t be considered official by a judge.
Examples of enforceable terms include:
- custody and/or visitation schedules;
- child support payments; or
- alimony payments.
How to File an Enforcement Order
To get an enforcement order seen in court, you need to file a petition for rule to show cause or contempt (depending on the situation). Both petitions are asking the non-complying party to be held in contempt and forced to comply.
Once the petition is filed, you must demonstrate how the agreement wasn’t followed. You can do this by signing the petition or swearing under oath that the person has not complied. The responsibility then falls upon the other party to explain why they violated the divorce agreement. For example, the other party could have lost their job, thus making them unable to pay the full amount of child support.
If you can prove that the other party was in the wrong, the court may assign certain penalties to that party. For example, the court could order the other party to reimburse you for any fees or expenses you may have had to pay on your own that you normally would have used support payments to fund.
Other penalties include:
- freeze of financial accounts if they are behind on at least $600 worth of payments or haven’t paid for 4 months;
- report to consumer reporting agencies (credit bureaus) if they are behind 15 days or more on payments;
- revocation of a passport or passport application if behind $2,500 or more on payments; or
- civil contempt of court if the other party has denied you visitation or is not showing up for visitation.
Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP Can Help
If you are having issues enforcing terms of divorce agreements, our firm has your back. We have extensive experience in pursuing enforcement actions and will aggressively work to ensure justice is served.