What to Do When Your Ex Does Not Comply with Your Divorce Decree?

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Although we would like to assume that divorces are always joint decisions, they may not be. Or at times, couples will enter the mutual agreement of obtaining a divorce, only to thwart their responsibilities once an agreement has been reached. Your divorce decree is essential for making sure that both parties will receive fair treatment during the proceedings.

Unfortunately, it is all too common for one party to disagree with a divorce decree, especially if they believe the agreed-upon terms are unfair or unrealistic. Even individuals who are dealing with the most difficult spouses in the world can take advantage of a few steps, which will make coming to an agreement less stressful.

It is important to remember that although you may want to take matters into your own hands, enforcing a divorce decree without the help of a legal professional (such as a divorce attorney) is relatively impossible. Below are some things to do when you are dealing with an ex that will not comply with your divorce decree.

1. Think about Their Financial Situation

The two most commonly avoided parts of divorce decrees are the payment of child support and alimony. They can make your breakup far more difficult for both you and your ex—because they can create a lifetime of resentment. Before you start worrying about how you are going to get money out of your ex, you should first think about their financial situation.

Ask yourself this question: Are they in a position to pay you the money that is owed? If the answer is no, then it may be more cost-effective and less time-consuming to just let it go, rather than attempting to collect payment from someone who simply does not have money.

If you are not in a position to willingly let go of the funds, it is preferable to reach out to state support-enforcement agencies, who are trained professionals designated to help you collect what you are owed.

2. Remember Your Kids

The last thing any parent wants is for a divorce to impact the lives of their children. If you are considering chasing down your ex in order to get them to comply, remember your children. You will not want to build an environment where they are constantly thinking about how their parents are at each other’s throats.

Depending on your personal situation, it can be better to compromise with your ex, so get the divorce finalized. Then you can both move on. Of course, this situation depends on how civil you are with your ex, and whether you can afford to reach a compromise.

3. Work with a Mediator

Perhaps your spouse is being difficult because they want you to feel their pain, or you have a long-lasting resentment towards each other. Either way, many spouses find that it is relatively impossible to reach a divorce agreement on their own. In these cases, it is always best to work with a mediator.

Mediators are trained professionals with years of experience that help divorced couples come to agreements. Mediators can also be used in a variety of other legal proceedings, especially with business-to-business relations.

With the help of a mediator, you and your spouse can set terms that you both can live with, and that will be mutually beneficial. Plus, you will learn how to work together during the process, which will help you build a stronger foundation for easily dissolving your marriage in an amicable way.

4. Talk to Your Lawyer

If you are one of the lucky couples that can come to an agreement outside of court, your divorce will be easier than you ever imagined. However, many couples are not as fortunate, and will find they need to talk to their lawyers. Spouses that refuse to comply with your divorce decree will face legal ramifications.

Perhaps you want to use your lawyer to bring your ex into court, or you just want to get some advice on how to handle your particular situation. Either way, that is what your legal team is there for. You may even find that pursuing your ex on your own will only do more harm than good, so you will need to choose the steps that will protect yourself and your family. With the help of your lawyer, you can establish a record of non-compliance that will only help your case.

Divorce is difficult enough without having to worry about an ex that does not want to agree with any of the terms you have laid out before them. As one of the stickiest legal situations to be trapped in, it is always best to side with the law. Then you can ensure you get what you are rightfully owed.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Podcast” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.