How to Petition to Collect Money in a Divorce Decree

By Jennifer Williams

Divorce is a difficult emotional process that can also take a terrible toll on the finances of both spouses. If one spouse is awarded money in the final divorce decree, that money might be necessary to pay essential expenses or even to avoid bankruptcy. But when the spouse who is ordered to pay does not, the other spouse is left to wonder: what happens now? Collecting the money awarded in a divorce decree requires the receiving spouse go back to court and file a Motion for Contempt.

Step 1

Write a Motion for Contempt of the original divorce decree. Use a form provided by the family court or obtain one from an online legal document provider. Use the same case number assigned to the divorce action. State the spouse ordered to pay money, the payor spouse, has not paid in accordance with the terms of the final decree and, therefore, is in contempt for violating the terms of the decree. Ask the court to structure the payments, taking them through an income deduction directly from the payor spouse's paycheck. Provide the name, location and contact information of the payor spouse's last known place of employment. Be sure to ask the court to require the payor spouse to pay any attorney fees and court costs associated with going back to court to enforce the decree, since it was the fault of the payor spouse that such expenses were incurred.

Step 2

File the Motion for Contempt with the same court that issued the final divorce decree. Most courts maintain their fee schedules on their court website. Look at the fee schedule to see if a filing fee is associated with returning to court to file a Motion for Contempt. If there is a fee, pay it when you file. Ask for a file-stamped copy of the motion and take it to a process server for service on the payor spouse. Usually, process servers are relatively inexpensive, but be prepared to pay an up-front fee for their service.

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Step 3

Wait for the process server to file a return of service as evidence the motion was served on the payor spouse. Wait the required number of days for the payor spouse to file a response to the motion. This is usually 15 days.

Step 4

File a Motion for Hearing with the court after expiration of the required response time. The court will issue a Notice of Hearing and mail it to both spouses. The notice sets the date, time and place of the hearing on the Motion for Contempt. Appear for the hearing at the date, time and place provided on the Notice of Hearing.

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Can You Be Ordered to Pay Spousal Support After a Divorce Decree Is Final in Pennsylvania?
 

References

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Michigan Laws on Alimony, Pensions & Social Security

Dividing property is an important component of every Michigan divorce. It is the job of the court to ensure that neither of you is left in an unfair financial position. The judge has the authority to award alimony payments, referred to as spousal support in Michigan, to one of you. This award might include a portion of the other spouse's retirement pension. Special rules apply to Social Security benefits, which may play an indirect role in calculating support in Michigan.

Commingling of Funds Law

As part of the divorce process, the court must divide marital property between spouses. In many cases, this is a clear-cut process. However, in some marriages, the waters are a bit muddier, so deciding who gets what requires more work and investigation on the court's part. This typically happens when spouses have commingled their separate and marital property, especially money. Although state laws vary, divorce courts typically handle this situation in much the same way.

How to File for Divorce With No Money

If you would like a divorce but have very limited financial means, you may be able to file the necessary papers without paying the court fees. Most civil courts have provisions that allow the indigent to carry out some basic legal procedures. Every jurisdiction has its own guidelines for waiving fees. Carefully follow the instructions provided by your local court clerk for this process.

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