After years of unhappiness and frustration, you and your spouse finally took the necessary steps toward dissolving your marriage. The process was not easy—few divorces are—but you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is possible to be happy again, and your post-divorce reality offers the opportunity for you to reclaim your life and your health. In accordance with the law, the terms of your divorce are formally recorded as part of the judgment of dissolution of marriage. Going forward, it is the responsibility of both parties to remain in compliance with the judgment, which, as a court-issued directive, is enforceable with legal action. If your spouse is failing to keep up his or her end of the arrangement, though, it may be up to you to take control of the situation.
Common Reasons for Needing Enforcement
Every divorce is different, of course, as the challenges facing an individual couple are the result of their own unique circumstances. However, certain aspects of a divorce judgement are more likely than others to be the source of non-compliance. Spousal maintenance and child support obligations, along with concerns regarding visitation, commonly create issues when one spouse refuses or is unable to comply with judgment. There may also be complications in completing the division of property process as, in many cases, the transfer of assets from one party to the other may take place over the weeks and months following the divorce.
Try to Communicate
When your ex-spouse is failing to comply with your divorce agreement, you have the option of going back into court with a petition to enforce the order. For child support issues, you may have other alternatives as well, but filing in court is certainly one of them. However, turning immediately to legal action may not set a desired precedent for your life after divorce. It may be better to try and discuss the issue with your ex-spouse, if he or she will communicate with you. You may find that there is a justifiable reason for his or her actions and that finding a resolution may be possible, either between the two of you alone or through mediation. On the other hand, if communication is not possible, the courtroom may be your only recourse.
Petitioning the Court
To enforce any element of a divorce judgment in court, you will need to file a petition for rule to show cause. You must clearly specify in your petition which terms of the judgment are at issue. The petition requests the court to summon your ex-spouse for an explanation regarding his or her non-compliance. If the court finds the non-compliance to be without lawful cause or justification, your ex-spouse may be held in contempt of court until he or she does comply. Penalties for contempt of court may include fines, periodic imprisonment, and the suspension of driving privileges.
Get Legal Assistance
As you decide how to get your ex to comply with your divorce decree, it is important to speak with an experienced St. Charles family law attorney. The team at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato will help you develop a plan for protecting your rights and holding your former spouse responsible for his or her actions. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a no-cost consultation today.