Divorce decree with gavelThis is the next post in a series of articles discussing how property is divided between divorcing spouses in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our previous article addressed how a property settlement may impact a spousal support award. In determining whether to award alimony, Judges must consider the financial resources of both parties, including property or other assets granted to a spouse as part of the divorce. The greater amount of property or assets a person receives in the divorce, the less likely it is that the Judge will award them alimony. In this post, we will address the importance of ensuring that the terms of a final divorce decree are enforced. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is important to understand your legal rights. Contact our office to speak with an attorney.

A divorce decree is a legally binding order of the court that outlines each party’s rights and obligations with respect to alimony, child custody and support, and the division of marital assets and liabilities. Like any court order, it is important to fully comply with the terms of a divorce decree. Failure to do so can lead to contempt of court charges, fines, and other penalties. Obvious violations, such as nonpayment of child support or noncompliance with a visitation order, are frequently the subject of enforcement actions by one spouse against the other. It is equally important, however, to enforce the obligations in the decree regarding the division of marital property. These may include ensuring that one spouse refinances or sells the marital home, closing a joint credit card, or removing a spouse from a car loan. Many people learn the hard way that not following up on such matters can have disastrous long-term consequences.

Consider the following example. Pursuant to their divorce decree, Jack is permitted to keep his marital home but is required to remove Jill’s name from the mortgage loan within thirty days. To do so, he must refinance the house. Unfortunately for Jack, the bank refuses to approve a new loan in his name only because he does not make enough money. Jill, who does not want to speak to Jack, does not follow up with him to ensure that he has removed her from the loan. A few years later, Jack misses several payments and ultimately defaults on the loan. Despite the fact that their divorce decree states that Jack is responsible for the loan, the bank reports the default to credit agencies and attempts to collect the overdue amounts from them both. Because Jill’s name is on the mortgage, a foreclosure action would likely be filed against her as well. Jill’s failure to enforce the terms of her divorce decree may have caused permanent damage to her credit.

Non-compliance with a property settlement in a divorce decree can lead to serious consequences. It is important to follow through with each step necessary to remove oneself from joint debt or assets and ensure that your former spouse has done the same. If your ex is refusing to follow the terms of your divorce decree, prompt legal action may be necessary. Our office is experienced in such matters and is ready to assist you. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer. In addition to Little Rock, we also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.