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What if my divorced spouse fails to follow a court order?

Issues concerning divorce do not always end when the Final Judgment is entered. Experience has shown that many couples return to court for several reasons. One of the most common reasons leading to a revisit is to modify child support when either party's income changes significantly. Another purpose is to modify a parenting schedule if a party moves to a different location, changes job locations or as the children get older, a change is necessary as their needs change.

Another trip back to court may be the result of one party's failure to live up to the Court Order, a Marital Settlement Agreement or a Final Judgment of Divorce. This may be based upon:

· A failure to pay child support;

· A failure to pay bills or debts that were ordered to be paid by one individual;

· A failure to cooperate in the sale of a marital domicile;

· A failure to pay the mortgage on a jointly held mortgage when neither party can refinance in his or her own name alone;

· A failure to comply with orders for visitation;

· A failure to cooperate to split a retirement plan;

· A failure to maintain health or life insurance;

Someone whose former spouse fails to live up to his/her obligations, can find relief in the Rhode Island Family Court.   A lawyer can file a Motion or a Complaint to Adjudge the Other Party in Contempt for you.  A Judge can listen to your allegations that the other person has failed to abide by the terms of the Divorce or a Marital Settlement Agreement.   The Judge will then listen to the defaulting party. If the defaulting party does not have a good reason for the default, she/he can be found to be in "willful contempt"; then the Judge can fashion a remedy for the default, including monetary penalties including legal fees.

We suggest that you always review your Marital Settlement Agreement or Final Judgment before proceeding with a contempt action. There may be steps that you need to take before beginning proceeding with a court action. Often, you may need to start the process with written notice of the default and give the other person a short time (10 - 20 days) to cure the default.

Instead of feeling helpless when your former spouse fails to abide with the court orders and contractual agreements, give us a call to help you resolve the issue before it blossoms into an emotionally and costly event.

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Law Office of Steven J. Hirsch, Esq

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100 Jefferson Boulevard Suite 315 Warwick, RI 02888 Phone: 401-287-2079 Fax: 401-352-0029 Warwick Law Office Map

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