Q: How does one go about getting a divorced spouse to uphold his part of divorce decree, when he is in contempt?
Is there a way without an attorney and additional fees?
A: No, you need an attorney to file and argue a Motion to Compel compliance and obtain a Court Order with real "teeth" behind it. You cannot handle a case that you are emotionally involved in, as well as not being a trained matrimonial attorney. With modern technology, you can be represented by any high-quality attorney in New Jersey irrespective of geography.
The easy answer is that you should have an experienced family law attorney handle it, but obviously hiring an experienced lawyer costs money so you need to decide whether the issue[s] outstanding justify spending the money.
Here is the advice part:
Many people decide that they simply cannot afford a qualified lawyer to handle the issue and therefore attempt to handle it themselves or they hire a general practice lawyer because he is cheaper and then the court fails to grant them the relief they were entitled to and they become angry at the judge or the legal system. Over the course of years, I have had too many consultations AFTER the person lost an important enforcement application and the person is angry at the judge feeling that he failed to do his job. And, in most of those consultations, it was not the judge who got it wrong, the application was filed wrong because the lawyer did not understand what he needed to submit or how to submit it properly or the litigant tried to do it himself and did it wrong.
So... you need to decide the importance of the issues outstanding and the value of the non-compliance claim to decide whether its worth filing an application with the court and if so, then my advice is to hire an experienced family law specialist and not a general practice lawyer who handles divorce and post-divorce matters along with municipal court, real estate, etc type matters.
A: Thank you for your question about enforcing the term of your divorce. In order to enforce your divorce decree, you would need to file a motion with the court to hold your ex-spouse in violation of litigant’s rights and compel them to comply with the provisions. It must be filed with the court in the county where your divorce was entered. This is a very fact-specific issue, and it is essential that your application be correct and written so that the court fully understands the violations. I suggest you contact a family law attorney to assist with preparing and filing your motion. While you can apply on your own, I do not recommend doing so. Depending upon the terms of your divorce and the other party’s behavior, the court may award you attorney fees and costs incurred in the filing of the application.
Thank you for your question. I can imagine this must be very stressful. You need a Motion to Enforce Litigant's Rights. Can you file it yourself, yes, the court rules allow it. Should you, absolutely not. There are multitude of reasons why you are more likely to get better results by utilizing counsel.
First, you are held to the same standard as an attorney, and you just do not have the requisite knowledge to properly do it on your own. Second, you are emotionally involved. Things never go well when emotions take over. You need a buffer and an advocate for your matter. Your legal counsel will be both.
The very first thing you need to do is consult with an experienced family law attorney. Then you can receive legal advice tailored to your specific situation. After that you can make an informed decision as to how to move forward.
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