Need Help Enforcing a Divorce Decree in Florida?

Discuss Your Options with a Jacksonville Family Lawyer Today

Ideally, by the time that a husband and wife reach the point where a divorce decree is issued by a family law court, both parties will recognize the benefits of making a smooth post-marital transition, but unfortunately, this is often not the case. In many instances, either because one of the spouses disagrees with the divorce decree or because they misunderstands the intent of the document, he or she will refuse to comply.

As divorce lawyers serving clients throughout Northern Florida, we at Owenby Law, P.A. have experienced situations where our client's ex-spouse has refused to comply with a divorce decree. In these instances, we have had to petition the court to hold him or her in contempt. If you are divorced and are having difficulty gaining compliance, our Jacksonville divorce attorneys can help you file a motion for contempt of court.

Contact Owenby Law, P.A. to learn more about your options in a free consultation.

Common Examples of Divorce Decree Violations

Common examples of divorce decree violations include:

  • Failing to vacate or sell the family residence
  • Refusing to pay spousal support or child support
  • Failing to adhere to a shared parenting arrangement
  • Failing to provide for the division of retirement accounts
  • Failing to surrender property assigned in the decree
  • Refusing to turn over a pet assigned in the decree
  • Failing to pay off designated debt obligations

How to Enforce a Divorce Decree Through the Courts

A divorce decree is a legally executed document signed by a judge, and is enforceable through the courts. Failure to comply can lead to fines and even jail time. If our client's former spouse refuses to respond to a request to comply with divorce decree, our firm will typically recommend that we pursue the matter by returning to the courts. At the hearing, the judge will try to determine the reason for the spouse's non-compliance.

Depending on the facts of the case, the judge will either hold the defendant in contempt, determine a time frame to gain compliance, or amend the divorce decree. The judge may also award penalties and/or attorney costs to the petitioner. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that a recalcitrant spouse won't continuously lapse into non-compliance. In some cases, it takes several appearances to gain complete cooperation.

What Steps Are Involved in Filing a Contempt Action?

  • Carefully review your divorce decree: Before you file a motion for contempt, it is important that you carefully reread your divorce decree in order to ensure a violation has actually occurred. You will need to be able to prove that your spouse has willfully violated the order.
  • Contact a Jacksonville family law attorney: Although you have the right to represent yourself in a contempt action, it is not recommended. Your chances of successfully resolving this issue are significantly increased when you work with an experienced family lawyer.
  • Try to reason with your ex-spouse: Before taking your case to court, you should try reasoning with your ex-spouse. Sometimes, it may be enough to let them know that you are ready to go to court if they cannot figure out a way to comply with your divorce decree.
  • File a contempt motion with the court: If your ex-spouse is unwilling to comply with the decree, you can file a motion for contempt in the same court that finalized your divorce. The court would then schedule a hearing and serve your ex-spouse with a notification.
  • Present your case at the contempt hearing: At the contempt hearing, you will present your case to the judge. They will review all evidence about the alleged violation and then hear the defendant’s side of the story regarding why they have failed to comply with the order.

Request a Free Consultation with Our Divorce Lawyers in Jacksonville

Just as you are expected to comply with the terms of a divorce decree, so must your ex-husband or ex-wife. We know how frustrating it is to have to deal with an uncooperative former spouse. We are here to help you enforce the divorce decree you need to continue moving on with your life.

Contact our firm today to get started. Initial consultations are free and confidential!