Divorce can be messy. People don’t always follow the rules. Even once the court settles the final divorce decree, one of the parties involved may not always do as they’ve agreed. This includes paying you alimony or child support and dividing up marital assets and property.
The court holds the power to enforce the final divorce decree. If one of the parties doesn’t do as they’re told, they can be held in contempt. This is where a motion for contempt of the final decree of divorce comes in to play.
Motion for Contempt of Final Decree of Divorce
Should your ex-spouse not follow your divorce agreement, you ought to file a motion for contempt of the final decree of divorce. This can be done on your own, but it’s recommended that you do it with your divorce attorney.
This must be served to your ex-spouse. Your attorney will take responsibility for this. If you’re doing it on your own, however, you may contact your court clerk for information on how to do this.
The motion has to state what your ex-spouse isn’t doing, what areas he or she is in violation of. It must clarify why he or she ought to be held in contempt of the divorce decree.
You must prove your case. Be prepared to appear in court. Common areas that are affected are child custody, visitation, child support, and property distribution.
What Happens After a Motion for Contempt?
Usually, a judge will allow the party in contempt to rectify the situation. An order will be written stating how the party is in contempt, also in what ways he or she can fix it.
Possible Jail Time
A judge can state that the party must comply immediately or a specified amount of time will be given for the party to do so. If that party refuses, he or she can be jailed until they comply.
There are laws in each state that allow for jail time to be cut short or not served at all. If there is nobody to watch the children, if the party has disabilities, if the party is unable to comply, or if there is a danger of loss of a job, then the court may forgo jail time. There may also be fines associated with contempt of court. Other penalties include the seizure of tax returns and the denial or seizure of your driver’s license, passport, or other professional licenses.
Some Assets are Exchanged Immediately
Some assets and property must be exchanged immediately, such as possession of a house. In such an instance, your ex-spouse must give you the house upon a judge signing the final divorce decree. If he or she does not do so, you have a case for contempt of court.
Other issues are on-going such as alimony and child support. In these cases, your ex-spouse must continue payments on their due dates. Failure to do so can result in a motion for contempt of the final decree of divorce.
The Divorce Decree Must be Upheld by Both Parties
Your ex-spouse can’t just do as they please. They must uphold the divorce decree. If need be, they can file a motion to modify.
For example, if their life circumstances have significantly changed, and the payments you were to receive need to change, they can petition the judge to have the agreement modified. However, these changes must be extraordinary, such as a lowering of payments in their job or a raise. In such a case, a judge may change the divorce agreement.
Everything that the divorce decree states is a contract. This means that it is upheld by the law. If your ex-spouse isn’t complying, they are breaking the law. You have a means to get this taken care of by filing a motion for contempt, so attend the proceedings.
Some Situations Involve Criminal Court
Even though most cases are handled in civil courts, sometimes the situation can turn into a criminal case. This can happen in the instance of child support not being paid. In certain states, failure to pay child support is a misdemeanor or even a felony.
If you win your case, you can potentially get your payment through a collections procedure. This works much in the way debt collection does. The money owed to you can be seized through a tax refund or a bonus check that belongs to your ex-spouse.
Speak with an Attorney
Dealing with the court can be a hassle. That’s why you should talk to a family law attorney if you believe your ex-spouse is in contempt of your divorce decree.
You should know what’s in your agreement well and be satisfied with it before the final decree is entered. Changing the divorce decree is difficult after it has been signed by the judge. It can be done in extraordinary cases, but you must prove that it is necessary.
Should your ex-spouse be non-compliant in your agreement, then filing a motion for contempt is your best bet to get the money or property you are owed. Seeking what’s rightfully yours through the court is your only option.
Dealing with a Non-Compliant Ex-Spouse
When dealing with a non-compliant ex-spouse, it’s best to talk to an experienced attorney. He or she will know how to file the correct motion for contempt of the final divorce decree. The attorney can then represent you in your case to prove that you are owed what you say you are.
Going at it alone can be difficult and confusing. It’s up to you to prove your case, after all. You are the injured party and you have to defend that you are owed the money your ex-spouse isn’t paying. This can be tricky. An attorney can help you gather all of the resources that you need to prove your case.
Keep in mind that the burden of proof is on you, the injured party. You have to make sure you can show that your ex-spouse isn’t following the terms of agreement in your divorce decree.
A motion for contempt of the final divorce decree will be looked over by a judge and he or she will issue the final verdict. If your ex is found to be in contempt, he or she will be forced to give you what’s rightfully yours or face the consequences.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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