Ending the marriage in Washington State does not always mean the end to legal matters related to the divorce.
Initially, the divorce decree and final child support, spousal support, and parenting plan orders need to be followed. Failure to do so may result in post-divorce litigation.
Also, as former spouses and children adjust to their new lives after divorce, and circumstances change, the prior court orders may need to be changed.
Common Post-Divorce Legal Actions
The following post-divorce legal actions are the most common.
Modifications to Washington State Court Orders
Modifications are requests for changes to existing court orders. See Modifications
Contempt of Child and Spousal Support Orders
Contempt is a failure to abide by a court order. It is available whenever an ex-spouse has violated a child support, child custody (parenting) plan, or spousal support (maintenance) order.
Contempt for failure to pay money as a part of a property settlement is only proper if the payment is related to support. Otherwise, the appropriate legal action is to enforce the decree.
Contempt of Custody Orders (Parenting Plan)
Examples of contempt of a parenting plan include:
- Your ex-spouse being early or late to visitation or generally not abiding by the residential schedule.
- Your ex-spouse making unilateral decisions in violation of joint decision making.
- Your ex-spouse refusing to undergo court mandated therapy, drug testing, or other court mandated actions.
A party found in contempt must pay the other party’s attorney fees and provide make-up time if needed.
If a party is found in contempt twice within a three year period, it constitutes changed circumstances sufficient to modify the parenting plan and may justify changing the custodial (primary) parent.
Enforcing a Divorce Decree in Washington State
The divorce decree must be followed. All property and debt awards in a divorce decree must be implemented. If a party does not abide by the divorce decree after divorce, a motion to enforce the decree is generally appropriate – though other remedies are available as well. Though not mandatory, a court will often require the non-compliant party to pay for the other party’s attorney’s fees.
Examples of post-decree matters that require enforcement include:
- Your ex-spouse refuses to sign over real property awarded to you in the divorce
- Your ex-spouse does not pay you a lump sum award.
- Your ex-spouse does not pay a debt obligation.
At Weintraub Law Office, we aggressively pursue contempt and other post-divorce enforcement actions.