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How to handle your spouse's defiance of your divorce orders

After you have done everything possible to achieve a fair and agreeable divorce settlement, you may think your work is done, and your former spouse will simply obey the order and comply with its obligations. This means you will receive any child support payments on time, your spouse will follow the parenting plan, you will obtain your share of the marital assets and your spouse will pay his or her share of your joint debts. There may also be additional stipulations in your unique agreement.

Whether things started out fine in the early post-divorce months or your former spouse never intended to comply with the divorce orders, you are now wondering how you can get him or her to live up to the terms of the settlement.

Orders related to the children

If your former spouse defies the divorce orders which a judge has signed, he or she is in contempt. Depending on the elements within the divorce your spouse is ignoring, you may have the option of seeking serious penalties to make your spouse comply. For example, failing to pay child support can result in garnishment of your spouse's wages or even time in jail to compel your spouse to pay what the court has ordered.

Your spouse may also face contempt charges for failing to follow the custody or visitation orders in your divorce settlement. This can include any of the following:

  • Refusing to allow you to see your children on your scheduled days
  • Consistently arriving late for exchange times
  • Cancelling on the days when he or she is supposed to have the children
  • Scheduling extra-curricular activities on the days when you are scheduled to have the children
  • Moving out of Illinois with the children against court orders
  • Alienating the children against you

These matters can be delicate and difficult to prove in court, so family counselors recommend keeping a careful log of the other parent's contact with the children.

Martial debts

Your divorce settlement likely included the division of your assets and debts. Even though the court may have ordered your spouse to take responsibility for paying certain debts, if your name is still on the account, you maintain the legal obligation in the eyes of the creditor. It is not uncommon for an unhappy ex to use this as a way to inflict suffering. By not paying the debts the court orders him or her to pay, your spouse may place your credit score in jeopardy.

With the help of an attorney, you may be able to get a judgement against your spouse to pay the delinquent bills. This may include a lien on your ex's property or even jail time for contempt. The best way to avoid this very difficult situation is to clear as much debt as possible before you divorce or expect to make any payments your spouse decides to skip. Your attorney may have additional options to consider.

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