What are my rights if I am recently divorced and my ex-husband agreed in our separation agreement to pay me a certain amount of money buy he has failed to do so?

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What are my rights if I am recently divorced and my ex-husband agreed in our separation agreement to pay me a certain amount of money buy he has failed to do so?

Fully 6 months later I have not received anything. How do I go about taking legal action to get the money? The legal docs filed with the court state the money is owed to me. I have contacted the ex and he refused.

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding your marital separation agreement, and your ex-husband’s non-compliance with your agreement.  Your concern is whether you can pursue legal action for your ex-husband not complying with the court-approved separation agreement. As with any other legal contract, each party is obligation to uphold all terms of the marital separation agreement.

A marital separation agreement is a legally binding contract. This can be compared to a divorce decree, which is also a legally binding contract. The terms in your separation agreement can set the tone for what is expected of the parties during a divorce settlement negotiation.  The terms of the marital separation agreement are as binding as the terms in a divorce decree. If there are terms you would not have agreed upon in a divorce decree, then you should not agree to those terms in a separation agreement.  

However, different than a divorce decree, a judge will not hold a party in contempt for not complying with the separation agreement.  The terms in the separation agreement can always be modified with regard to marital/ spousal support, child support, child custody, and visitation.  While the judge will not hold a breaching party in contempt, the other party may sue the breaching party of a separation agreement, since the separation agreement is a legally binding contract.  Then, after the party proves that the other party was in breach, the judge will order the other party to comply with the agreement.  Also, if your agreement discusses attorney fees, you can get reimbursed for attorney fees for having to sue him to comply with the agreement.

If you have difficulties writing the terms of the agreement, you may find it helpful to contact a family law attorney in your area that can further assist you with the divorce process.

 


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