During your divorce proceeding, you and your attorney will work diligently to ensure that your final Separation Agreement is as detailed as possible. But what happens when after the agreement is signed and your divorce is finalized, your spouse decides to disregard your carefully crafted Separation Agreement? Perhaps your spouse failed to pay you the correct amount of alimony or child support, or perhaps he or she failed to abide by the parenting plan that you tirelessly negotiated. This is the time to consider filing a Post Judgment Motion for Contempt.
During your divorce proceeding you may have heard the phrase “Pendente Lite,” meaning during the litigation. All motions filed before the date of divorce are considered Pendente Lite motions as they are filed before a final judgment is entered into. Any litigation that occurs after the date a final judgment is entered into is referred to as “Post Judgment”.
Once your separation agreement is signed, it can feel devastating and overwhelming to be confronted by a spouse who chooses not to abide by the agreement that the two of you entered into. Fortunately, the Connecticut Courts are well equipped to handle such matters and the attorneys at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie, LLC are well versed in all areas of Post Judgment litigation.
A Motion for Contempt, whether filed Pendente Lite or Post Judgment, requires a specific burden of proof to be met by the moving party. In order for the judge to make a finding of contempt you will need to show by clear and convincing evidence, the following: that there is a clear and unambiguous court order, that the order has been violated, that the party who violated the order acted willfully, and finally, you must clearly explain the relief you are seeking from the court.
If for instance, your Separation Agreement states that your spouse is obligated to pay you a set amount of money as Unallocated Alimony and Child Support on the first and fifteenth of each month, but your spouse begins paying you an incorrect amount one time per month, say on the twentieth, you may consider filing a Motion for Contempt re: Unallocated Alimony and Child Support, Post Judgment. The first prong of your burden of proof will be met by your Separation Agreement so long as the agreement is a court order and clearly and unambiguously outlines your spouse’s obligation. To meet the remaining prongs, that your spouse violated the order and acted willfully in doing so, you will want to make sure that you have kept diligent records. At a Hearing, you will want to present the judge will as much information as possible regarding the payments you have or have not received from your spouse and any information regarding your spouse’s willful conduct. You will need to show that your spouse acted deliberately and intentionally when they failed to pay you.
Some other common issues that Post Judgment Motions for Contempt address are failure to properly divide marital assets, failure to abide by parenting plans, and failure to cover or pay for mutually agreed upon children’s expenses. No matter what issue arises after a final judgment is entered into in your action for dissolution, the attorneys at Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie, LLC can provide the necessary support and knowledge to remedy the situation.