Enforcement of Florida Divorce Decrees

divorce enforcementEnforcement of Florida Divorce Decrees

Many spouses who divorce understand that when the divorce decree is entered, that they need to comply with the decree and move on with their lives. Ex-spouses are normally more likely to respect a divorce decree if the decree was entered into through negotiation, mediation, or the collaborative divorce process – rather than decided by a judge. Ex-spouses who need to enforce a divorce decree should understand that enforcement and modification of decrees may be expensive and time-consuming. Often, it is worth trying communication before filing an enforcement action.

Still, there are terms when your ex-spouse just isn’t cooperating. Your spouse may have agreed to list his/her business for sale but now refuses to do so. Spouses may decide on their own that they’re not going to pay an alimony award, honor the terms of a parenting agreement, or comply with a child support order. Enforcement may be your only option.

Your rights if an ex-spouse refuses to comply with a Florida divorce decree.

Your spouse may not want to comply with a divorce decree for legitimate reasons – such as not fully understanding their obligations. Your spouse may not comply with the decree because he/she still disagrees with the judge’s order. The spouse who doesn’t comply may think you won’t want to go back to court.

If there is an Indian River County divorce decree, you can enforce your rights. At Lulich & Attorneys, we understand the steps you need to take to enforce your rights. The main step is to file a petition seeking to hold your ex-spouse in contempt for not meeting the terms of the divorce decree

We understand how to handle noncompliance issues for civilians and even when an ex-spouse is serving in the armed forces.

What types of violations qualify as noncompliance with a divorce decree?

Divorce decrees include more than the actual divorce. They include the equitable division of marital property, alimony, child custody, and child support. Common examples of noncompliance that necessitate enforcement actions include:

  • Not leaving a family home or not agreeing to list the family residence for sale.
  • Not cooperating or complying with a duty to transfer any property including bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other assets.
  • Not paying alimony at all or on a timely basis.
  • Not paying child support at all or on a timely basis.
  • Not complying with the terms of a parenting plan such as not transferring the child on time, leaving the state without notifying you, not communicating with you about the child’s needs, and not complying with many other parenting terms.
  • Not giving you the pet as agreed to in the divorce decree
  • Not paying off the mortgage or other debts that were set forth in the divorce decree.

The divorce decree enforcement process

Once the contempt petition is filed, the judge will set a hearing date where your ex will have to state the reasons for the noncompliance. At Lulich & Attorneys, we will represent you at the hearing, explain the terms of the divorce decree that aren’t be honored, and have you testify about the types of non-compliance.

If your ex-spouse does not comply with a divorce decree, a judge can give your ex-spouse a time, a deadline, to comply. If your ex does not meet the deadlines, the judge could:

  • Order that your spouse pay fines until he or she does comply.
  • Sentence your ex to jail for noncompliance.
  • Order other appropriate remedies such as changing the terms of the divorce decree to reflect your ex-spouse’s noncompliance.
  • Order that your ex-spouse pay your legal fees.

The judge may also be able to consider attaching some of your ex-spouse’s assets or income to meet the terms of the divorce decree. 

The judge cannot guarantee that your ex-spouse won’t fail to comply again. You need to be persistent and seek enforcement for each violation as the violations occur. A judge will likely increase the penalties for subsequent acts of noncompliance.

How does the contempt of the divorce decree process work?

The main steps of a contempt petition are:

  • Reviewing your decree. It is critical that we identify the words and actions in the divorce decree that you are seeking to enforce. We will explain the duties your ex-spouse must meet and show the language in the divorce decree that requires that your ex-spouse cooperate.
  • Showing noncompliance. You will need to be prepared to show that your ex-spouse failed to comply with the divorce decree. In some cases, such as where your ex-spouse was required to list the marital home with a broker, you can have the broker testify that your ex-spouse never agreed to list the property. Many disputes such as when your spouse came to pick up your child often depend on your version of events as compared to your ex-spouses. We help you prepare for these disputes by explaining ways to verify the time of the pickup such as having a relative present or introducing text messages from your husband (or wife) that he’ll be late.
  • Scheduling an appointment with a skilled Indian River County divorce decree enforcement lawyer. While you can present your case to the judge by yourself, your odds of success increase when you meet with a skilled family lawyer. We understand the paperwork that needs to be filed, how to present your case, and how to argue your case before the family law judge. We also try to negotiate with your ex-spouse or his/her lawyer. Many disputes can be resolved through communication and addressing any concerns your ex-spouse has. Some concerns may be legitimate. If your ex-spouse is just being difficult, we’re ready to argue your rights before the judge.
  • Filing the formal contempt of court petition. When negotiations fail, you need to file a contempt petition with the court to enforce your rights. The family court will then set a hearing date and formally notify your ex-spouse of the hearing date.
  • Presenting your case. Our seasoned lawyers understand what evidence you need to present and how to present your case before the judge. We respond to your ex-spouse’s version of events. We explain to the judge what enforcement actions we think are justified because your ex-spouse violated the divorce decree.

Talk to an experienced Indian River County divorce lawyer today

Don’t delay. If your ex-spouse is not cooperating, then he/she may need to be served with a contempt motion. We often work out solutions when ex’s fail to comply. We’re always ready to assert your rights even if that means asking the judge to sentence your ex to jail. At Lulich & Attorneys, our Vero Beach and Sebastian divorce lawyers move aggressively to enforce divorce decrees that are being violated. Call us at 772-580-5500 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment