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Enforcement of Divorce Decrees

Ex-spouses are bound by the written terms of a court-ordered divorce decree. When a party to a divorce fails to abide by the court’s orders, the other party may petition the court to enforce the decree. In many instances, it takes the courts involvement before an ex-spouse will honor a divorce decree.

Many times, people seek the court’s help when their ex-spouse interferes with parental rights, or fails to timely pay child support. Parents are bound by custody arrangements and parenting plans even if they came up with the arrangement themselves and submitted it to the court for approval. Parents who interfere with their ex-spouse’s custody and parenting time rights can be punished with fines and possibly even jail time. Furthermore, custody is separate from child support, and one can never be conditional upon the other, so parents must honor custody and visitation arrangements regardless of whether the other parent makes timely child support payments.

Ex-spouses may also need the court’s help to enforce the property terms of a divorce decree. Many times divorce decrees include property orders that require one of the ex-spouses to deliver property to the other spouse, or make payments on loans incurred in both spouse’s names. Where an ex-spouse fails to obey these types of orders, it could be harmful to the innocent ex-spouse’s credit. Seeking enforcement from the court may be the best protection for ex-spouses in these types of situations.

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