Post-Judgment Enforcement - What to do When One Party Doesn’t Follow the Rules
When your divorce is completed, either by way of a settlement agreement or by a trial before your judge, the court will sign a final document called a “Judgment of Divorce.”
Courts and attorneys refer to this as the JOD. The JOD will address every last item of issue in the divorce. It will describe division of cash and savings, division of pensions and 401(k)s, division of debt, division of personal assets, division of real estate assets, parenting time and child support, division of tax exemptions/tax refunds, and spousal support. Once these terms are placed within the JOD and are signed by the court, the terms become an “Order of the Court.” If one party doesn’t follow the court’s order, they could find themselves in quite a bit of trouble.
There are truly an unlimited number of ways in which a party can violate the terms of the Judgment of Divorce. These can include:
- Failure to pay child support or spousal support
- Failure to transfer an asset such as a 401(k) or IRA
- Failure to turn over personal property
- Taking a tax exemption or keeping a tax refund that wasn’t allowed
- Failure to refinance real estate or automobiles
- Failure to sign quit claim deeds on property
This is just a partial list of the myriad of ways in which a party can be in violation of the court’s orders.
If your former spouse is not following the court’s orders, you are not without recourse. An experienced family law attorney can force your former spouse to appear in court on a “Show Cause” motion. A show cause motion is serious business. It means your former spouse must appear in court and “show a good cause” as to why they are violating the court’s orders. Perhaps your former spouse does have a good cause for not performing pursuant to the Judgment of Divorce. Maybe they’ve lost their job or have a true emergency financial crisis. In such cases, the court may well give the violating spouse a limited amount of leeway. However, the court will take a very dim view of a party who is willfully violating the Judgment of Divorce. In those cases, the court can order the violating party to immediately rectify their non-compliance. What’s more, the court often can order the violating spouse to pay the attorney’s fees you’ve incurred in bringing your show cause motion. In more extreme cases of non-compliance, the court can actually put the violating spouse in jail!
Your family law attorney should be able to discuss with you the nature of the violation(s) of the court’s orders and what remedies are available to you.
If you are considering divorce or have been served divorce papers, call me. I've helped hundreds of people protect their family and their assets and I can help you. For a FREE Consultation Call (248) 921-7164