When you get divorced, you expect that your ex will follow the court orders that are part of the divorce. While most couples will abide by the agreement, this is not the case with everyone. Sometimes, your ex might refuse to comply with the instructions that have been included in the court order for one reason or another. If this happens, there are a couple of things that can be done, as you will see below.
What Is a Court Order in a Divorce?
The divorce decree will often contain a substantial amount of information regarding the divorce and other matters. The decree will often include rulings on how certain pieces of property and assets will need to be divided. It will also contain information on spousal maintenance, and information about the children. This will include custody, visitation, and child support.
It is important to keep in mind that the information in the divorce agreement is not just a suggestion. Once it has gone through the courts, it becomes an official document, a binding contract that needs to be followed by both parties. Of course, there are always cases where one party doesn’t agree and doesn’t abide by those rules. Let’s look at a few examples.
Your ex-spouse might not be complying with the division of property. For example, the court order might have said that they need to sell the marital home and split the proceeds with their former spouse. However, your ex might be putting off the sale of the home for one reason or another. What happens when you need that money from the sale and have been counting on it for your new home?
Maybe your ex is not paying spousal support that you are relying on to make it through each month. Maybe they are not paying child support or they are not visiting the kids and taking them during their parenting time. Perhaps they are not bringing the kids back on time when it is your parenting time.
When things like this happen, they are violating the orders of the court. They could be in serious legal trouble if you file for enforcement—especially if this is not the first time that they’ve violated the court order. The punishments for not following the court order can vary. In some cases, the spouse might be ordered to spend time in jail. This is often true if they are continually failing to pay child support.
Talk with Your Ex
If you have a relationship with your ex where you feel comfortable talking with them on the phone, and you don’t have a restraining order against them, then this could be a first step that you can take. Sometimes, they may be in the process of complying with an order. For example, they might have started to get the home ready to be put onto the market. Rather than filing with the court, simply getting in touch can help to keep you in the loop with what’s happening. Of course, they should have let you know in the first place, but we all know that doesn’t always happen.
However, sometimes, talking with the ex about their failure to comply with the court order does not work. It is not enough to get them to change their ways, make amends, and comply. This will generally mean that you have to move forward. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to file with the court for enforcement quite yet.
Demand Letters and Phone Calls from an Attorney
Although there will be some cases where the order will need to be filed with the court, often, a demand letter or a phone call from an attorney will be enough to get your ex to comply with the court order. This is a best-case situation, of course. Sometimes, the ex might just need that little extra push that the letter or call provides to follow whatever element of the court order they were neglecting or violating.
However, that’s not always the way it goes. Sometimes, even after contact with the attorneys, they might not comply. In those cases, you will need to file for enforcement.
Filing with the Court
Although letters and calls from an attorney can often get people to comply, this doesn’t always happen. Many times, they will still be defiant and not follow the court orders. In those cases, you will need to file for enforcement with the courts. The timeframe between when you file and when the courts take action can vary based on many factors. However, you will find that the courts tend to take non-compliance seriously and they will work to get your ex to comply as soon as possible.
Filing for enforcement is often the only choice that you will have available to you. It’s not your fault that you have to take this route. It happens because your ex is not adhering to the rules and requirements in the divorce agreement. They have done this to themselves. If they are in a situation where they can’t pay because they have lost a job or because of some other factor outside of their control, they should have spoken with an attorney about trying to get a modification rather than not paying or not following the agreement.
What Should You Do?
After going through a divorce, you would hope that things would get easier. However, that’s not always the way it works. Some exes will still be problematic and will not abide by the rules. You can’t let their failure to follow the rules slide. It’s important that you are working with an attorney that can help you when this happens. You can work with the same attorney that helped you through your divorce if you were happy with the results that they helped you achieve. Otherwise, you can work with a different attorney.
Regardless, you must have an attorney on your side. They can send the letters and make the calls mentioned earlier, and hopefully get things back on track for you.