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When Your Ex-Spouse Ignores The Settlement Agreement

When you opt to go for an alternative method of finalizing your divorce, you can end up with a settlement agreement. As you probably are well-aware, divorces do not always have to end in a courtroom. You can always try to be reasonable and discuss your divorce and matters related to it with your spouse. You can go to mediation, and if things work out well and you reach a settlement that is satisfactory for both parties, your mediator can draft a settlement agreement which will be signed by the judge. Going down this path will have a lot of benefits because you can make decisions about your divorce yourselves. It is a good way to maintain a decent relationship with your ex-spouse so that you can function as co-parents effectively.

A settlement agreement will be a good method to placate both parties, but it can be such a headache when one spouse doesn’t keep his or her end of the bargain. It’s incredibly frustrating too. What should you do when your ex-spouse violates the terms specified in your settlement agreement?

Your Settlement Agreement is Legal

Your settlement agreement, otherwise known as MSA is legal and binding. You can treat it as a legal and binding contract that both parties must follow. After all, when your divorce was finalized, the judge had approved the agreement. If one party violates the terms stated in the settlement agreement, he or she can be subject to the civil contempt of court. Therefore, if you and your ex-spouse had agreed that he will pay a certain amount as child support and he now refuses to do so, you can take appropriate legal measures against him.

How to Make Your Settlement Agreement Work

You may not be aware of it, but most MSAs include ‘default’ clauses. These default clauses would basically tell you what you should do when the other party is not following the agreement. Usually, when your ex-spouse makes a violation, you must write a letter with the details of the violation. In most cases, the offender will comply with the agreement, knowing that legal action can be done against them. Surely, your ex wouldn’t want additional expenses that he or she must shell out if you were to take legal action.

There are also cases when writing a letter just doesn’t cut it. When sending a letter does not work, you should hire an attorney. When it comes to MSA violations, you really won’t have to take it to court most of the time, but if there is a persistent violation, you might have to file post-judgment enforcement proceedings. With that, having a family law attorney with you will be a big help.

Holding Your Ex Accountable

According to experts, the best and probably the easiest way to hold your ex accountable when it comes to MSA violation is to have your attorney include terms in the MSA stating that the spouse who violates the settlement agreement must pay for the legal fees in enforcing the agreement. A lot of attorneys already add this term even if you don’t ask them to but make sure to mention it to your attorney during mediation if you can.

Family court judges have the power to provide a solution when your ex-spouse violates the MSA. You could receive different types of compensation and would enforce your ex-spouse to comply with the terms stated in your MSA. You can receive financial compensation as well. If the violation is proven to be intentional, your ex-spouse may have to pay a fine and can even go to jail for the violations.

It’s easy to feel intimidated when your ex refuses to keep his or her part of the bargain, but you should remember that the MSA is a legal force that is as good as the final divorce decree. If your spouse is being difficult, you can always hire a trusted family law attorney to help you deal with the implementation of your agreement.




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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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