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How to Enforce a Divorce Decree

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What Is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is a judgment order outline what each spouse must do or refrain from doing to fulfill divorce agreement. The decree summarizes the duties and rights of each party involved in the divorce. The decree outlines: 

Unfortunately, each party does not always fulfill their part of the decree.

File a Motion for Civil Contempt of Court

A divorce decree is a court order. When an individual violates the order it is contempt of court. Contempt of court is a willful disregard of a court order. In a court hearing for contempt of court, both parties must prove their cases.

If the judge finds the ex-spouse in contempt, the ex-spouse will have time to remedy the situation. If an ex-spouse is not following agreement, the judge will try to remedy the situation by sending the ex-spouse to jail. As soon as they comply to the divorce decree, they will be released from jail.

File a Claim in Civil Court

You can sue your former spouse in civil court, not family court, for the money they have failed to give to you. People usually seek this option in child support cases. To start a civil lawsuit, you must file a complaint in court, and a judge will hear your case.

After hearing both sides of the case, the judge will rule on the case. If you win a judgment against your former spouse, you can collect the debt. For instance, you can garnish your former spouse’s wages, or obtain their tax refund check to obtain the money you are owed.

Pursue Criminal Non-Support Charges

Another option if you exhaust civil remedies is to pursue criminal charges. Some state laws do have misdemeanor and felony charges related to failure to pay child support.

Should I Talk to a Lawyer about the Breach of My Divorce Decree?

The violation of a divorce decree is a complicated matter to handle without legal representation. Talk to a divorce attorney about the best way to get the other party to follow the terms of the divorce decree.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 04-08-2015 04:55 PM PDT

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