Enforcing a Divorce Decree 

If your spouse does not comply with the terms of your divorce decree, you can file a motion to enforce it in court. While this can be a frustrating process, it may ultimately help you get the justice you need in your divorce. 

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If you are struggling to enforce a divorce decree, it is important to start by keeping a record of the violations that are happening and making sure that you have an adult conversation with your ex-spouse. This can often be the only way to resolve the problem peacefully between you and your ex. However, if this fails to work, you might need to hire an experienced family law attorney to enforce the order. 

You can also petition the court to award interim attorney fees when you have no financial resources at hand. This means that you can be awarded an advance on your portion of the equitable distribution so that you can pay for the attorney fees needed to bring your case to a close. 

Interim Attorney Fees are typically only awarded when a judge is concerned that one spouse is in significant financial distress and will not be able to afford to pay for their own legal fees while the litigation is ongoing. This may be the only way that you can win your case and be awarded a fair settlement amount. 

Depending on your situation, you may need to show that the other spouse is violating the divorce decree by providing evidence of this non-compliance. If this is the case, you can ask the court to enter a contempt order against your ex-spouse. 

A contempt order will allow the court to hold your ex-spouse in civil contempt of court for failing to comply with the divorce decree. This can result in a fine and/or a requirement that they attend a hearing where they are required to explain why they are not complying with the court order. 

In some cases, a spouse can even be held in criminal contempt of court for violating the divorce decree. This can result in serious penalties such as incarceration and fines for the offending party. 

Enforcement of a Divorce Decree can be complicated and expensive. The cost of filing the initial petition and then proceeding through the court process can be considerable, and a lot of money is spent on experts to evaluate issues and prepare evidence. 

It is important to note that the court cannot order your spouse to pay your attorney fees if you did not plead that you are entitled to it in the original petition. If you do not do this, the judge will not consider your request and the court will likely not order your spouse to pay your fees. 

You should also remember that in many jurisdictions, courts are only permitted to award “costs” for the prevailing party. These costs might not come anywhere near compensating you for all of the actual out-of-pocket expenses that you have incurred to pursue the case and win it.