You've survived the marriage and endured the divorce. Now, you're ready to move onto the next phase of your life. But what if your ex-spouse doesn't want to play fair and refuses to make ordered support payments or divvy up the marital assets? How can you get the divorce decree enforced? Here are some steps that you can take.
1. Involve your local child support enforcement agency if child support is an issue.
If the major issue is unpaid child support, go to the local child support enforcement agency before you go back to court. Usually, these state agencies will take action on their own—without you having to pay for an attorney to do it.
Involving these agencies can be quite effective because some states consider failure to pay child support a criminal offense and the penalties can be severe.
Keep in mind that these agencies only concern themselves with child support, however. If your issue involves something else, including alimony payments, you'll have to take a different tactic.
2. Ask your attorney to contact your ex-spouse's attorney.
Sometimes a letter or phone call from your attorney to your ex-spouse's attorney is enough to shake things up and start some forward motion. What usually happens is that your ex-spouse's attorney will let him or her know exactly what kind of legal problems could arise if things don't change.
3. File a motion for a contempt of court ruling.
Your divorce decree is a court order—and divorce court judges expect their orders to obeyed just like any other judge's orders. Your attorney can file a motion for a contempt of court ruling on your ex.
The court will then require your ex to appear before the court and explain why he or she hasn't complied with the decree. If there's a reasonable excuse (and sometimes even if there isn't), the court will probably give your ex a second chance to comply before penalizing him or her.
However, if your ex still continues to ignore the ruling and can't justify his or her actions to the judge, he or she could end up facing jail time for contempt.
4. Put your ex-spouse into collections.
If all else fails, ask your attorney to help you get a judgement that will allow you to initiate collection proceedings against your ex. An unpaid legal judgement is like any other bill—and it may entitle you to put a lien on his or her house, car, or other property. It can also entitle you to garnish his or her wages and tax returns.
If you're having trouble collecting what you're owed after your divorce, make a reasonable attempt to work it out with your ex-spouse (if he or she is open to reason). Then, contact your attorney (like those at Burgess, Harrell, Mancuso, Colton, La Porta & Shea) to help you from there.