Going through a divorce is often one of the hardest times of your life. You are forced to make major decisions on things such as finances, property and custody, all while processing the emotions that come with a divorce.
When your divorce is final, you may feel a sense of relief that you can finally get on with your life.
Your agreement should be fair to you and your spouse
Divorce under Virginia law is meant to achieve an equitable result for both spouses. This means that you should leave your marriage with relatively the same financial stability you had during your marriage.
You might have obtained this through divorce agreement terms that state your spouse must pay you alimony or transfer certain property over to you.
Filing for contempt of court
But what happens if your spouse doesn’t follow through? One of your options is to file a contempt of court petition.
Your petition should state what your spouse is supposed to do according to the court order. You are scheduled for a contempt hearing and required to prove your case with evidence.
Have your evidence ready
You should have a copy of your divorce agreement ready and any documents or proof you have that your spouse has violated the agreement by not performing their obligations.
To be found in contempt of court, you must show that the violation was willful. That means you must prove that your spouse is able to follow the order and is choosing not to.
For example, if your spouse was supposed to transfer a piece of property into your name and has not, if they produce evidence showing the transfer process is held up by something out of their control, a judge may not find them in contempt of court.
There are various penalties for being found in contempt of court. The judge could order your spouse to pay you an additional sum of money, although there is no guarantee they will follow that order either.
If it appears your spouse is going to continue to be uncooperative, more serious penalties such as wage garnishment or jail time could be imposed.
Before you file a contempt petition, it is good to speak with a family law attorney who can properly assess your situation.