A final divorce decree will have provisions in the court order which relate to division of property and debts. When one of the parties does not follow through in obeying the court order, the other “innocent” party may choose to file a motion with the court. This is called a “Motion for Enforcement” and is a request for the court to hear the case and enter new orders to enforce those particular provisions that are in issue.
An ex-spouse may neglect to pay a debt as ordered, may choose not to vacate, sell or maintain property as s/he was ordered to do, refuse to cooperate in property transfer or help him/herself to more than his/her share of a joint asset. These are all situations in which a Motion to Enforce may be filed by the ex-spouse. What are your options if your ex spouse hasn’t followed through? You can attempt to discuss it directly (not recommended if your relationship is volitile) . If further action is necessary, you may decide to take a copy of the final divorce decree and any evidence with you to a family law attorney’s office for a consultation. That attorney will help you assess your case, and possibly offer alternatives that are less expensive for you than filing an immediate suit, such as writing a certified letter from the law firm or attending mediation. If you decide that you would like to file a suit, the attorney will explain the potential cost and time investment that your case will require.
If you are served with a lawsuit regarding enforcement, you will have a certain number of days in which you must respond by filing your answer. If you do not do so, a judgment will most likely be taken against you. Even if you cannot pay the judgment now, it can follow you for several years, and collection efforts may be initiated against you. See an attorney right away, before that happens.
If you see “trouble ahead”, you can also try to minimize problems by dealing with the situation now. For instance, if you know that you have been unable to follow court orders because you have become ill, or lost your job.
Kalish Law Office has been serving family law clients since 1984. www.kalishlawtexas.com The Woodlands, Texas