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What if your ex-spouse won't obey the divorce decree?

What do you do when you finally get through all the wrangling and haggling of divorce and have everyone's obligations and rights spelled out on paper, but your ex-spouse is acting like all those orders are somehow optional?

The answer depends largely on what orders are being ignored and how much the issue matters to you.

For example, when your ex is refusing to pay off the credit card he or she was ordered to pay, you want to take action to preserve your good credit. However, will it cost more to take the issue back to court than it will just to pay the bill?

On the other hand, if your alimony payments aren't being made, that's a serious issue that you need to address because it affects your current and future financial stability.

That means each situation has to be evaluated as coolly as possible -- and then you can decide from your options:

1. Let it go.

Obviously, this option should only be chosen if you determine that the financial and emotional trade-off of letting the issue go is worth it.

2. Ask the judge to hold your ex in contempt.

Divorce decrees are official orders of the court -- something that many people fail to consider when they choose to ignore them. That means you can ask the judge to intervene and the judge can decide if a bench warrant should be issued. Potential penalties could include just dragging your ex into court in order to shake him or her up and into compliance, fines and jail time.

3. Turn your ex-spouse over to collections.

If the issue is alimony or an unpaid bill and you have a valid judgment, you can try to get a lien against his or her property or ask the court to order garnishment of his or her wages or tax return. Even Social Security can be garnished for alimony or child support.

4. Involve the prosecutor's office.

If the issue is potentially criminal -- such as unpaid child support that has reached into the thousands, your ex may be subject to misdemeanor or criminal "deadbeat parent" charges.

For more help enforcing your ex-spouse's legal obligations, talk to your attorney today.

Source: FindLaw, "3 Potential Ways to Enforce a Divorce Decree," Betty Wang, J.D., accessed Sep. 27, 2017

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Phone: 561-328-0718
Fax: 561-253-6353