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Will he have to comply with our divorce agreement?

October 2, 2017

While laws vary by state, if your ex violates your divorce agreement, it’s possible that he could either lose some of his money or even be put in jail. The decrees, judgements and orders that are issued in family court and that make up your divorce agreement are legally binding. The divorce agreement obligates both parties, by law, to do as it says.

Enforcement Motions

When your ex violates the divorce agreement, it’s uncommon for a police officer to just show up at their door. However, if your ex has fallen far behind in child support, it’s possible that the court will file a bench warrant for his arrest, which could lead the cops to show up at his door and arrest him. This tends to only happen if the parent has a history of not paying child support. When you tell the court that your ex didn’t abide by the divorce agreement, the judge can send your ex an enforcement motion, sometimes called a motion for contempt, which requires them to appear in court.

Defenses for Breaking the Divorce Agreement

If your ex is unable to follow the divorce agreement, he may present an affirmative defense. For example, if the divorce agreement says your ex has to pay a certain amount of money in child support every month, but he’s lost his job since that divorce agreement was put into effect, he will have to show proof that he can’t afford the child support and that he’s been looking for a job. This would be his affirmative defense. Note that an affirmative defense cannot simply be saying that the divorce agreement was unfair – it has to show specifics for why the divorce agreement cannot be followed now.

Consequences of Breaking a Divorce Agreement

While the exact consequences will be based on the offense itself, the court will most likely order your ex to do what they were supposed to do. He also make have to make amends for not doing it in the first place. For example, if you have to take your ex to court because he violated the divorce agreement, he may be required to pay your legal fees. If your ex hasn’t been paying you the money he’s owed, his wages could be garnished until you’re paid in full. If your ex hasn’t allowed you the right amount of visitation with your kids, the judge may require him to allow you extra visitation to make up for the missed time. Also, if you end up taking your ex to court multiple times for the same violation, he could end up being charged with contempt of court, which could potentially lead to time in jail.

Preventing a Problem

If you know that your ex is going to have trouble sticking to the divorce agreement, and that there’s a legitimate reason for this, it may be better to go back to court in order to modify the divorce agreement before it becomes a problem. If circumstances have changed in your life or your ex’s life, the court will probably be willing to adapt the alimony, child support or visitation agreements so that you can both adhere to the new divorce agreement and avoid problems in the future.

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