What Does It Mean to Enforce a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is a court order that nullifies a marriage, formally granting the request of the divorcing parties to end the union. The decree outlines various conditions the parties must meet, which are considered permanent unless limited in the final decree itself. Some terms and conditions in a divorce decree include child custody, support, property division, alimony, and other orders for both spouses to follow to finalize the divorce.

Unfortunately, your ex-spouse may fail to comply with the orders in the divorce decree. You can seek legal intervention to enforce the decree by making the other party do what is required of them. Skilled family law attorneys in Alpharetta can look into your case and provide legal counsel on the channel to use to protect your rights.

What Actions Should I Take If My Ex Doesn’t Comply with the Divorce Decree?

Divorce decrees are legally binding contracts, and failure to comply can lead to legal action against the party that breaches them. Divorce attorneys in Metro Atlanta explain that in enforcing a divorce decree, you must demonstrate that your ex-spouse knew of the provisions in the decree and willfully disregarded them.

Before taking legal action, it’s advisable to communicate with your ex-spouse first to see if they will comply with the order voluntarily. This option is often less time-consuming and more cost-effective. You may enlist the help of skilled divorce attorneys in Alpharetta to resolve the issue out of court. If the communication attempts fail, the lawyers can help you take legal action.

Filing a Contempt of Court Motion

If your out-of-court attempts to make your ex comply with the decree fail, you can proceed to file a motion asking the court to order your ex to comply. The judge will evaluate the evidence you present, and if you have strong evidence, they can order your ex to comply or be held in contempt.

Depending on the case specifics, either party can request a modification of the existing divorce decree. For the request to be granted, the requesting party must prove that the current circumstances differ from when the court initially entered the decree, making it difficult to comply with the order.

Experienced lawyers can help you determine if the modification request is appropriate. They can also provide legal representation in court if necessary. Working with skilled legal experts enhances the chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

When Should I File for Contempt of Court?

Filing for contempt of court is not applicable in every case. You should only pursue the settlement charges if the orders in your divorce decree are enforceable by contempt. Divorce lawyers in Metro Atlanta add that your ex must have intentionally disregarded the orders despite having the resources to comply.

Some common reasons to file for a contempt proceeding are:

  • Failure to pay child support or alimony
  • Failure to satisfy debts as ordered in the decree
  • Failure to transfer accounts and titles

For example, you can file contempt of court if your ex fails to pay child support despite having an income and being able to remit the payments. On the contrary, if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that makes it impossible for your ex to make the payments, the most suitable approach would be to seek a modification of the order.

What Happens If the Court Determines My Ex Is in Contempt of Court?

What follows after the court finds your ex-spouse to be in contempt of court depends on the part of the order in the divorce decree they are breaching. Common orders that divorced parties fail to comply with are:

Property Division

Division of assets and debts doesn’t happen overnight and may continue even after the decree is issued. However, if your ex-spouse fails to actively work on giving you the assets that are rightfully yours or puts it off unnecessarily, you could seek the court’s intervention.

In enforcing this part of the agreement, the court will evaluate the specifics in the divorce decree to establish if they are enforceable by contempt. Your ex-spouse could lose their rights to the property or face additional charges depending on the case specifics.

Child Custody and Visitation

It can be frustrating if your ex doesn’t obey child custody and visitation orders because their actions deny you valuable time with your children. In extreme cases, your ex may forbid you from seeing your children altogether, while in milder cases, they may continually fail to drop off the children at the agreed-upon time.

Whatever custody and visitation problem you have, the court can help enforce the order if you can sufficiently prove your case. One way would be to review the custody agreement upon determining contempt. Depending on the extent of the case, your ex’s parental rights may be reduced, and you could be awarded more time with your children.

Failure to Pay Child or Spousal Support

Meeting your child’s needs or managing your finances can be challenging if your ex fails to pay alimony or child support as required. You have the right to ask the court to enforce the order, which it can do through wage garnishment. The court could also impose a jail sentence as punishment.

However, it would be best to carefully weigh whether throwing your child’s other parent would be in their best interests, given that it can sever the parent-child relationship. Spending time behind bars would also hinder your ex’s earning ability, potentially worsening the situation. Let skilled divorce lawyers in Metro Atlanta help you weigh your options.

A Skilled Family Law Attorney Helping You Handle Agreement Breaches and Enforce Your Divorce Decree

Divorce decrees are legally binding agreements, and both parties must comply with the orders. If your ex-spouse intentionally disobeys the orders, you can seek court intervention with the help of experienced family law attorneys in Alpharetta. The court will evaluate the case and determine the best way to enforce the order.

Alpharetta divorce lawyers at Hecht Family Law can help you with your case. It’s essential to protect your rights after a divorce. If your ex won’t comply with the divorce decree, we can help you seek legal resolution through court enforcement. Call us at 470-380-7256 to schedule a FREE consultation.