Once your divorce has been finalized, you and your ex-spouse are legally required to abide by the terms of the settlement agreement. While most people will do just that, there are certainly those who will violate their agreement, ignoring what the court has ordered.
If you find yourself in a situation involving the violation of a court-ordered divorce settlement agreement, you may need to ask your attorney to file a Motion to Enforce Litigants’ Rights with the court. Here are some steps you can take to enforce your rights:
Violation of court-ordered support
Once a child support order is on record, it must be obeyed. If it is not, you can ask your attorney or the New Jersey Child Support Program for assistance in enforcing the order. The state has many enforcement tools at its disposal, including but not limited to:
- Withholding the income of the delinquent party
- Reporting the arrears to credit bureaus
- Seizing a tax refund check
- Seizing bank or other financial assets like stocks
- Suspending the delinquent party’s drivers or professional license
- Seizing any lottery winnings
- Issuing a warrant for the arrest of the delinquent party
- Entering a judgment against the delinquent party
Your attorney can also request a Family Court hearing where a judge will decide the action to be taken against the delinquent parent. This may include issuing an arrest warrant, requiring immediate payment in part or in full, and/or requiring additional payments in addition to the support arrears.
Violation of parenting plan
If the court finds that one parent is deliberately denied parenting time with their child, there are several options for enforcement of the parenting plan:
- Custody modification. You could ask the court to modify the parenting plan to make it easier for the other parent to comply, or to provide for specific remedies for non-compliance.
- Custody change. Petitioning the court for a change in custody may be an option, especially if your ex’s behavior is especially egregious. Parental alienation is real and has even been labeled a form of child abuse since it weakens the bond a child has with one parent and hinders a child’s emotional development.
- Enforce an existing order. Another option is asking the court to enforce the existing order and to allow for extra parenting time to make up for the time missed.
- Sanctions. You can ask the court to find your ex in contempt of court for violating the custody order. You can also ask that your ex be made to pay the attorneys’ fees and court costs associated with your effort to enforce the original custody order. Under New Jersey law, you also have the right to file a criminal complaint for interference.
Violation of marital debt payment
Ideally, marital debt will have been paid off and names removed from joint accounts prior to a divorce being finalized. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen and there is no recourse available from the financial institution because they do not recognize a divorce order.
If you are faced with this situation, you will need your attorney to file a motion for a judgment against your ex for the amount owed to the debt holder. Protecting your interests and achieving results that support your needs is what you can expect from Murphy & Cistaro. Contact us today for your free consultation.