How Can a Breach of Contract Be Enforced in a Divorce?
Getting a divorce involves several agreements between you and your ex-spouse, both written and unwritten. One written agreement that could be made is a marital settlement agreement, or MSA. An MSA is a contract, and in a contract, you have the right to enforce it if your ex-spouse decides to breach it. If you are currently involved in a divorce and you are interested in writing an MSA, then it is vital that you understand how to enforce a breach of contract, if needed.
How Could My Ex-Spouse Breach a Contract During Our Divorce?
The most common contract involved in a divorce is your marital settlement agreement, or MSA. Typically, an MSA includes topics such as alimony, child custody, child support and property division. Your ex-spouse could breach the MSA by withholding child support or alimony, breaking the written terms of the child custody plan, not paying any outstanding debts, or refusing to turn over money or property.
What Are My Enforcement Options for the Breach of Contract?
- Order a divorce decree. When you create your MSA, you can ensure that a court-ordered divorce decree adopts the terms of the agreement. This means that the MSA will have the same power as a judge’s order. So, if your ex-spouse doesn’t comply with the agreement or divorce decree, then he or she will be found in contempt of court and can be fined or sent to jail.
- Check state laws for child support. All states have some sort of law that makes it easier for parents to collect child support if the other parent isn’t making the agreed upon payments. The court can actually order that alimony and child support payments be withheld from the paying spouse’s paycheck, or state agencies can collect back child support payments if the other spouse refuses to pay. Your ex-spouse’s tax returns can also be taken by the state, or his or her driver’s license, professional license, or passport can be revoked.
- File a motion. To completely ensure that the breach of contract is enforced, you can file a motion with the court to enforce the MSA or to enforce the divorce decree that holds the MSA. Once you file the motion, you do have to give a copy to your ex-spouse to give him or her time to respond. If you both disagree, the court will probably order a hearing to receive further evidence and to issue a final decision.
Having to deal with a breach of contract is never fun, especially during a stressful and complicated divorce. If you would like more information about contract breaches and how you can avoid them in your situation, then contact one of our attorneys at Anderson & Riddle today.