After the emotional and financial turmoil caused by divorce, the last thing anyone needs is for their ex-spouse not to adhere to the court’s divorce decree.
Even though Texas law requires both parties to comply with a divorce decree, decree violations still occur.
In these situations, trust the help of an experienced family law attorney to prepare a motion to enforce your divorce decree form in Texas.
Act quickly to protect your rights and put a stop to your ex-spouse’s conduct.
What Is a Divorce Decree?
A Texas divorce decree resolves all matters pending in the divorce, including child custody and property division. A divorce decree is an order of the court. Therefore, all parties subject to the divorce decree must obey the provisions within the order. When a party violates the order’s provisions relating to property division, the remedy for a wronged party is filing a motion to enforce a divorce decree in Texas.
How Is the Decree Enforced?
When a party violates or fails to uphold the property division terms of a divorce decree, the wronged party must file a motion to enforce the divorce decree.
Texas law requires that a motion to enforce a divorce decree in Texas be filed within two years of the date the court signed the decree, unless an action contemplated by the decree was to take place later in time than from entry of the decree.
If the decree divides future property that did not yet exist at the time of the divorce, then the two-year period will begin running when the right to the property accrues. For example, you might agree to share the proceeds from selling the marital home but agree not to sell it until your children are older.
If your spouse refused to turn over your share of the equity, then you would have two years from when the sale closed to bring a motion for enforcement.
Right to Receive Future Property
If the decree gives someone the right to future payments—either installments or a lump sum—the court may recognize a constructive trust on the party required to pay. This imposes a fiduciary duty on them to take care of the property for the benefit of the owner.
Take the example of the marital home above: the party who continues to live in the home has a responsibility to preserve the other party’s share of the equity until the home is sold. If they were to take out a second mortgage on the home in the meantime and use the proceeds for their own benefit, that could violate their duty under a constructive trust.
What Remedies Are Available on a Motion to Enforce a Divorce Decree in Texas?
When the court grants a motion to enforce a divorce decree in Texas, the court may provide one of the following remedies.
In situations where the terms of the original divorce decree may not be enforceable due to lack of specificity or clarity, courts may make a clarification order. Parties to the divorce may request a clarification order. Once entered, courts provide a reasonable period for enforcement of the subsequent clarification order.
Delivery of Property
Courts may order delivery of specific existing property awarded to a party, including awards of money or its equivalent.
In situations where a party fails to comply with a divorce decree but the property subject to the decree no longer exists, the court may order a money judgment for damages caused by a party’s failure to comply.
Attorney Fees and Costs
When a party fails to obey a divorce decree, the court may require payment of attorney fees and costs by the uncooperative party.
Courts may also impose a turnover order if the following conditions exist:
- The uncooperative party owns the property;
- The property cannot be seized by ordinary legal process; and
- The property is not exempt from attachment, execution, or seizure for the satisfaction of liabilities.
A turnover order requires the uncooperative party to turn over all non-exempt property, documents, and records due to the other party.
The court may find the violating party in contempt of court for disobeying the divorce decree. Punishments may include fines, probation, or jail time.
Suit for Breach or Suit for Declaratory Judgment
Lastly, Texas law permits parties to file a suit for breach of contract or declaratory judgment within two years of the divorce decree.
The husband and wife team behind The Larson Law Office prides itself on personalized and tailored legal counsel to our clients.
Each of our clients speaks to either Diana Larson or Erik Larson personally regarding their case details. We do not push clients off on a legal assistant or associate. We use our extensive legal experience to pursue the best path forward for you.
If your spouse violated the terms of a divorce decree, contact our office to discuss your options for filing a motion to enforce a divorce decree in Texas. We provide free telephone consultations. Don’t wait. Let us help you today!