What If Your Ex Doesn’t Follow the Divorce Decree?

When you get a divorce, you expect your ex-spouse to follow the obligations outlined in your divorce decree. But sometimes, the person to whom you were married falls short.

If your ex doesn’t follow the specifics in your divorce decree, what can you do? Remember, these are terms set by the judge in your divorce case, so they aren’t optional or to be taken lightly.

Here’s what you need to know about what recourse you can take if your ex doesn’t follow your Minnesota divorce decree.

Divorce Decree: What Is It?

A marriage that legally ends in divorce proceedings always has a divorce decree issued by the court at the end. In this decree, the specifics hammered out in your court are spelled out on paper. It includes the reason the marriage was dissolved and what each person must do in terms of child support, custody, parenting time, and division of property.

One person may fail to comply with the terms that are spelled out in a divorce decree. Doing so is called noncompliance. Often, it may be best handled by drawing their attention to the failure, and, if that doesn’t work, getting the decree enforced by the court.

Remember, divorces can sometimes take years to finalize, and the judge must weigh all evidence to make a decision about important topics. Division of property, child custody, child support, and alimony are in the decree.

When the divorce is finally settled, each party is given a copy of the decree, which they are expected to follow. On the date the decree was issued, your divorce is final.

What If the Decree Isn’t Followed?

The obligations set by the decree are meant to be followed by each party. When one person doesn’t follow it, then action needs to be taken in order to have the needs in the decree met.

If a person fails to follow the decree, it is considered an act that puts them in contempt of the court. That means they simply aren’t following what they are legally obligated to do. The court has the power to enforce the decree in every way, which is why you should take steps to make sure it is enforced.

Steps You Can Take

When your ex-spouse doesn’t follow the decree issued when you were divorced, there are certain steps you should take. They include:

Understand How It’s Being Violated

Look over your copy of the decree to figure out how they’re not meeting it. This can be things like failing to pay child support or alimony – or neglecting to transfer real estate to you. Write these violations down to gather support for your side of the issue.

Get Your Evidence Together

You have to show the court specifics if you want the decree enforced, so gather evidence of ways your ex is failing to follow the decree. This could be things like written communications from them or records of finances. These items are your proof.

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File a Motion

Work with your attorney to file a motion for contempt of court. They will submit a motion to the court about how the decree isn’t being followed along with your evidence. A judge may give your ex a chance to fix things on their own, but they will only have a certain window of time to do this. If they fail, then the court will set a date for a hearing.


About the Author:

Andrew T. Poole is a Minnesota native who has served in the Army for more than 18 years and is currently a JAG lawyer in the Army Reserves in addition to serving as a partner at LaCourse, Poole & Envall. He has handled thousands of criminal and family law cases over the course of his career and has a firm belief that all hardworking Minnesotans should be entitled to the best possible legal counsel. Mr. Poole boasts a 10/10 Superb rating on Avvo, is Lead Counsel rated, and has been recognized multiple times by SuperLawyers, National Trial Lawyers, and others for his work.