What can we do about an ex-spouse’s failure to fulfill a requirement in a divorce decree?

My boyfriend’s ex was supposed to mail his father’s Bible that she stole back to him as part of the divorce. It’s the only item he has from his father who died when he was 9. It never arrived. After a month we contacted her lawyer and were given a BS story with a phony tracking number. They claim someone opened the envelope, stole the Bible, resealed the envelope, and returned it to sender. We have no proof that it was mailed or that it still even exists. My boyfriend is now in Afghanistan so I am having to help him sort this out. Can we sue her for this?

Asked on November 6, 2011 under Family Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your boyfriend may have a remedy through a motion to enforce the divorce decree.  When one party is not complying with the requirements of a final order, they can file a motion to compel or enforce-- which would apply to your situation here.  He could also file for post-judgment discovery if the court permitted it to try to get more information on the location of the Bible.  The story from the ex's attorney certainly seems odd and is probably more designed to aggravate than to tell the truth.  Once people get drug back into court, they sometimes realize the seriousness of lying to a judge.  How effective this option will be will depend a great deal on how lenient your judge is about these types of matters.  You may want to visit with a family law attorney about the chances of success with this type of motion in your jurisdiction.  Also keep in mind that it will have to be filed by your boyfriend.  Even though you want to be helpful, only he can enforce his own decree.  As a non-party, your involvement will have to be limited to a supporting role. 

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