Finalizing a divorce can feel like an endless journey, but trust that there will come a day when the final divorce papers get signed. While you’ll likely breathe a huge sigh of relief, the unfortunate truth is that sometimes even that is not the end of the road. In certain circumstances, former spouses do not abide by the terms of the divorce decree, calling for enforcement of court orders after divorce. Violating the terms of a divorce agreement in this way is a violation of a litigant’s rights. The remedy for this situation is to set in place motions to enforce a litigant’s rights.
Because the terms of a divorce settlement are legally binding, there are specific steps one can take in order to enforce court orders after divorce.
New Jersey courts have broad authority to enforce a court order of divorce decree. The first step in this process is for one party to file a motion to enforce the movant’s rights. This motion asks the court to find the offending ex-spouse guilty of violating the terms of the divorce. If the court rules in favor of the movant, it will order the offending spouse to comply with the original order or face specified consequences. The person filing the motion must explicitly list what the ex-spouse is refusing to do, request for the court to enforce the ex-spouses’ compliance, have a copy of the original order, sign a certification paper prepared by his or her attorney, and make specific additional requests should the circumstances require them (i.e. ex-spouse pay for other’s attorney fees).
Oftentimes, the court will issue a warning giving the offending party a second chance to remedy his or her actions before assigning penalties. If a party refuses to comply and does not have a legitimate excuse for his or her failure to comply, the court will issue an enforcement order and take legal action. New Jersey courts take violations of divorce agreements very seriously and are not shy to issue penalties. Penalties range widely from minor (such as a $50 fine) to severe (such as confiscating a driver’s license or even jail time) depending on the offense.
In order to keep the process as straightforward as possible, it is recommended to keep a finely documented paper trail of all efforts to get the offending spouse to comply. Emailing the offending spouse about his or her failure to abide or getting written confirmation of attempts to address the issue creates a stronger case for legal enforcement. As previously mentioned, because the terms of a divorce agreement are legally binding, the offending spouse will have to abide by the terms if found guilty of violating the divorce terms.
For more information on enforcing court orders after a divorce, contact Romanowski Law Offices or call us directly at 732-603-8585.