We often receive calls from people who have already been divorced but are having trouble enforcing the terms of the divorce or property settlement agreement. Sometimes, after an agreement has been made or a court has issued an order, an ex-spouse decides not to obey the final order or agreement. The result is that one party may become burdened with a community debt that is not being paid as agreed or with liability on a real estate mortgage that is not being paid as agreed or real estate that is not being sold as per the terms of the agreement. Credit scores can be ruined or the ability to obtain loans impeded.
In order to protect our clients, when we represent someone in a divorce we include language in any agreement or stipulation assuring that our client will be indemnified for any debts or liability that the other party is assuming. Language that protects a client when the spouse receiving real estate fails to pay is essential as well as language that requires mortgages to be refinanced or modified to release our client from liability within a certain amount of time is also important. In cases where our firm is assisting after a divorce is final, usually the recourse for resolving a post-decree dispute is to either attempt to settle the dispute through mediation or to bring a motion in court to enforce the prior agreement.
Regardless, knowledge and understanding of potential future issues are key to avoiding preventable harm.