What can an ex-spouse do ifthe other spousereneges on a financial agreement made as part of their divorce?

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What can an ex-spouse do ifthe other spousereneges on a financial agreement made as part of their divorce?

Couple divorces after 10 years (2007). Woman wants man to sign paper she made stating that he would pay her $14,000 for her share of his retirement fund and his half of debt. Man agrees so woman won’t fight divorce. The agreed amount $600 a month. That happens a couple times after divorce is final, then that amount just isn’t feasible so man starts paying much lower payments. Woman is upset about not getting enough money. Amount “still due” is around $9,800. Man wishes to stop making payments for good. Not Alimony. Legally what can woman do about man stopping payment altogether? Sue? Wage garnish? Jail?

Asked on October 13, 2010 under Family Law, West Virginia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Was this a settlement agreement that was entered in to when you were divorced?  A written and formal settlement agreement that was signed by both parties and conforms to the laws in the state of West Virginia? Then it is a binding and legal contract.  You need to g back to court to ask the Judge to enforce the contract and to enter a judgement against your ex for the monies owed.  Once you obtain a judgement you can execute on it as any other judgement creditor: garnishment, levy - whatever.  You may, though, have to sue monthly for the remainder as each payment comes due and goes by the wayside, depending on how the agreement is written.  I would take it to an attorney in your area.  Good luck. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the agreement constituted a valid contract--for example, if there was consideration, so the man received some benefit, including simply avoiding an expensive or extensive fight--then if the man breaches the contract, the woman can sue to enforce it. Agreements between people are, as a general matter, enforceable as long as they are not against the law; not against some court order or in contravention of some prior agreement; and were formed as valid contracts. The best thing to do would be to take the agreement to an attorney who can review it and the situation and determine whether the agreement is enforceable; if it is, the lawyer can then bring legal action to do so. The woman should bear in mind, however, that if the man simply has little or no income or assets, even if the agreement is legally enforceable, as a practical matter, it may be impossible to get money from him.


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