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Are Settlement Agreements Meant to Be Broken?

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Once you arrive at a final divorce settlement agreement, it's important that the divorce order is implemented properly. Since the logistical details aren't necessarily spelled out in the divorce agreement, that places the burden of follow through on the divorced parties.

Spouses should create an acceptable post-divorce action plan that will spell out how they need to move forward. If drafted right, the plan would lay out step-by-step actions in order of priority, including a timetable for achieving them. The problem is, many settlement agreements lack this information.

In effect, you get inaction, ambiguity, and noncompliant divorced spouses. Does this mean that settlement agreements are meant to be broken? No, of course not, but it happens more than it should.

Some post-divorce problems that can arise:

  • Enforcing spousal support
  • Enforcing child support orders
  • Ensuring compliance with custody orders
  • Failure to list the marital residence for sale
  • Failure to refinance the mortgage
  • Failure to pay debts
  • Failure to divide assets
  • Assets are improperly divided

We've found that problems can get sticky when it comes to dividing retirement accounts, especially when there are different kinds of accounts, such as traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(K) plans, annuities, and pensions.

Do you divide all accounts equally? Do you retain the accounts in your name and then one of you makes an equalization payment to the other?

When an Ex-Spouse Refuses to Comply

Disagreeing on how to divide assets isn't as bad as refusing to do it at all. There are spouses who believe that "settlement agreements are meant to be broken." In that case, the ex-spouse defies the settlement agreement intentionally and willfully. Nobody wants their ex to do that to them.

If you've waited it out and your ex still refuses to comply with their obligations in the settlement agreement, an attorney from our firm can enforce their obligations under the agreement or a previous court order. As a last resort, we can consider filing for contempt if that's the best option.

To evaluate your options, contact Claery & Hammond, LLPfor a free consultation!


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