Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How can you enforce a Property Settlement Agreement, Final Decree of Divorce or custody arrangment?

A property settlement agreement or a final decree of divorce setting out each party's future obligations (dividing assets, paying spousal or child support, custody and visitation, etc.) are great...until someone doesn't do what they are supposed to.  So what do you do when your ex-spouse is not paying you support or won't sign the title to transfer ownership of a home or vehicle?

The most common avenue for enforcing these arrangements is through a "Show Cause".  A Show Cause is filed by the party who feels the other party is not abiding by the terms of the court order.  It requires the offending party to appear in court and show cause, or some reason, why they are not abiding by the court order.

You will be obligated to prove that the offending party is not actually abiding by the court order.  There are different ways to go about proving a violation of the court order, but all evidence is subject to the state's evidence rules.  There are also some reasons for violating an order that a court will excuse the offending party from punishment (i.e., I was in the hospital and unable to write the check until I got out so the payment came a few days late).  Those legitimate reasons vary depending on the court, the judge, the circumstances, etc.

Because of the complex and subjective nature of these proceedings, you should seriously consider retaining an attorney to represent you in the proceedings.  The consequences of a show cause could include a fine, jailtime, payment of the other party's attorneys fees, etc.

If you would like more information or a consultation on a show cause proceeding, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.