Enforcing Property Awards After Divorce
Concluding a divorce proceeding ultimately results in the issuance of a final judgment, or legal order, that covers matters related to property division, alimony, and child custody if applicable. When it comes to property division, most divorce decrees direct the parties to follow specific procedures regarding property transfers. These judgements are court orders, so when one party refuses or fails to comply with a property award, that person’s former spouse can take steps to enforce the judgment. If you were recently divorced and have not yet received the correct portion of your own marital assets, it is important to contact an experienced property division lawyer who can explain your legal options going forward.
Motion to Compel Compliance
Unlike unpaid alimony and child support, which can justify a contempt of court determination, issues related to an unfulfilled property division award require that petitioning parties file a motion to compel compliance. The only exceptions to this rule apply in cases where an equitable property distribution award involves an action, in which case, civil contempt may be available. If, for instance, the court ordered one party to name a former spouse as a beneficiary on an insurance policy as part of the property award, the non-complying party could be held in civil contempt for failing to do so.
If awarded, motions to compel compliance require the non-complying spouse to transfer a specific asset within a certain amount of time. These motions are often accompanied by writs of execution, which allow the petitioning party to collect the amount granted in the earlier order. In these cases, courts have the authority to impose a levy or lien on a specific piece of property that will remain in place until the owner complies with the divorce decree. Otherwise, a levying officer could be permitted to sell the asset to satisfy the property award.
Writ of Garnishment
Under Florida law, a person can enforce a property award following divorce by asking the court to issue a writ of garnishment, or an order to a bank or organization to withhold payments or funds from one party and transfer them to the individual seeking enforcement. This method of enforcement is most commonly used when attempting to collect spousal maintenance, child support, or attorney’s fees, or from individuals who don’t own non-wage assets. To receive a writ of garnishment, the petitioning party must file a motion with the same court that entered the earlier divorce decree. Once issued, the sheriff serves the order on the non-complying party, who is then required to file a response.
Writ of Attachment
Property awards can also be enforced through the issuance of a writ of attachment, which allows law enforcement officers to seize a non-complying individual’s property. Seized property will usually be held until the party provides an attachment bond, or money held in place of the seized asset, although courts also have discretion to order that the property be sold and the proceeds transferred to the petitioning party.
Obtain Legal Counsel for Your Divorce
Contact our office at 954-945-7591 to set up an initial case review with dedicated Fort Lauderdale property division lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about the merits of your case.