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Post-Divorce: Enforcement of Property Division

You are divorced and in the final decree, your ex-spouse was ordered to take care of a particular piece of property. It could be that they were ordered to take a piece of property and pay for it, pay a debt, ordered to hand over a piece of property to you upon divorce, etc. However, your ex-spouse has failed to comply with these orders and you are fed up with asking them to do so time and time again without any result. So, you contact your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. in Kaufman County who informs you that a motion for enforcement can be filed on your behalf. In a nutshell, and quite simply, this is asking the Court to force the other party to do what they were originally ordered to do, because they never did it.

When dealing with an enforcement issue, the primary concern would be looking at the final orders and what particular provision you are seeking to enforce. This is crucial because the order language must be specific in order to be enforceable. If not, then you (within the final orders) are given the option of requesting a clarification from the Court via a motion to clarify. Basically, you would be telling the Court, I know you ordered my ex-spouse to do something, but we are unsure as to what the specifics were in that order or what the Court had in mind with that order. This request for a clarification can be joined with your motion for enforcement.

Also, the language within the final orders is important because when preparing your motion for enforcement, you have to identify the violated provision. That is, Texas Family Code Section 157.002(a)(1) states that the motion to enforce must “identify the provision of the order allegedly violated and sought to be enforced.” Therefore, a motion for enforcement serves as a tool to point out to the judge his/her orders in the final decree, the allegations that the party ordered to act has failed to do so, and then requests a remedy on your behalf due to the responsible party’s failure to comply.

With respect to remedies, there are a few to choose from. You can either request that the Court order the party to deliver a piece of property to you, award real estate, or award a money judgment and attorney’s fees. With respect to the last remedy, this is requested when the order can no longer be performed such as you already took care of it or the property doesn’t exist anymore. You are requesting that the Court award you an amount of money for damages of either costs you incurred or the value of the property that no longer exists. Once you obtain a money judgment, you will need to enforce it against the other party.

Once a motion for enforcement is drafted, it will then be filed with the clerk’s office and the Respondent (your ex-spouse) will be served with your motion and citation. This will allow them some time to answer your petition, hire an attorney, or both. At the time of filing, you can also seek to have a hearing placed on the docket which will be a hearing before the judge, not a jury trial.

Knowing your rights when the other party won’t comply with what the Court orders is essential. It is frustrating to know that even when a Court orders someone to do something, they may not do it. But, it is good to know that there are remedies for noncompliance. Courts issue orders for a reason, and they expect the parties to comply with them. But, you have to take that step and bring this to the Court’s attention.

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