What Happens in Texas if a Petitioner Refuses to Follow the Divorce Decree for Property Settlement?

By Beverly Bird

In Texas, as in most states, divorce decrees can reflect a settlement agreement between spouses or terms ordered by a judge after a divorce trial. If you divorce by settlement agreement, a Texas court typically can't change its terms regarding property later. Its provisions are enforceable, however, if your ex-spouse ignores them and forces you to take him back to court.

In Texas, as in most states, divorce decrees can reflect a settlement agreement between spouses or terms ordered by a judge after a divorce trial. If you divorce by settlement agreement, a Texas court typically can't change its terms regarding property later. Its provisions are enforceable, however, if your ex-spouse ignores them and forces you to take him back to court.

Community Property Law

Texas is a community property state, so both spouses have an equal right to ownership of property acquired during the marriage. Texas is somewhat more progressive than other community property states, however. Its courts will sometimes consider factors that might make an equal 50/50 split of marital property inequitable. Spouses can spare themselves the uncertainty of what a court might order by reaching an agreement on their own, and the court will typically honor it and incorporate it into a decree.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Changing the Decree

If your divorce issues were settled by trial, you have 30 days under Texas law to appeal the judge's decision regarding your decree's property terms. If you settled with your spouse by way of an agreement, you voluntarily agreed to its terms, so there's no right of appeal. You can go back to court to modify its custody, child support or alimony provisions, but property terms are usually set in stone. Your spouse must abide by them, even if he decided after signing the agreement that he doesn't like them.

Amicable Solutions

Some property settlement violations are understandable because they involve unforeseen circumstances or reasonable concerns. For example, if you're retaining the marital home, and if you spouse is obligated to convey your interest to him via a quitclaim deed, he might refuse to do so until you've refinanced to relieve him from any liability for the mortgage. You can usually resolve this type of issue by having him sign the deed at the time of closing.

Enforcement Actions

When issues can't be resolved amicably, Texas law allows you to take your spouse back to court to enforce your decree. You can do this whether you were divorced by trial or marital settlement agreement by filing a post-judgment enforcement motion. The motion should explain what provisions your spouse is refusing to follow and what you want the court to do about it. Although the court can't change your settlement agreement provisions regarding property, you can ask the judge to revise the language to make your respective obligations more clear. You can ask the judge to order your spouse to turn over property to you that was granted to you in the decree, or to enter a money judgment against your ex so you can be compensated if his refusal has cost you financially. If your ex repeatedly refuses to follow the terms of your decree, you can ask the judge to hold him in contempt of court and impose fines or jail time.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Michigan Law on Divorce Settlements

References

Related articles

How to Enforce a Breach of Contract in a Divorce

How to Undo Custody Arrangements in New Jersey

Not Obeying a Court Order in a Divorce Decree in New York State

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Collecting Divorce Settlement Money in Pennsylvania

How to Enforce a Divorce Decree Without an Attorney

What Does Child Custody & Property Settlement Agreement Mean?

What Happens When a Judge Awards a Piece of Property in a Divorce Decree?

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED