Legal Agreements

What to Do If One Party Breaches a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

calendar12 May, 2023
timeReading Time: 4 Minutes
What to Do If One Party Breaches a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

The divorce settlement agreement is an essential and important document to settle the marital dispute between the couples; it is drafted by the couples to end their relationships without any ambiguity. The divorce settlement agreement should be inclusive of all the possible points of settlement on various issues between both parties, so that their process of separating from each other is completed smoothly and the remaining issues are determined very clearly, to refrain from any chance of ambiguity, so they could lead their lives peacefully after the enforcement of the divorce settlement agreement. A divorce agreement is often drafted before the parties proceed with mutual divorce. Many times, it is also referred to by other names, such as separation agreement, marital settlement agreement, mediated agreement, custody-support and property agreement, and separation and property settlement agreement.” This document enables the parties to settle the terms of divorce. It is drafted before the mutual divorce proceedings between the spouses; hence, it becomes the spouses responsibility to abide by the terms and conditions mentioned in the Divorce Settlement Agreement.

Why Divorce Settlement Agreement is so Essential?

The Divorce Settlement Agreement states the terms and conditions that the spouses have agreed to follow, and it further provides clarity to prevent disputes from arising in the future between the spouses after the separation. This document also states if the liability of any of the spouses exists after the divorce of the couple or not. The terms regarding spouse support are also deemed to be in the said divorce settlement agreement. As the divorce settlement agreement is legally binding, it acts as a regulatory force that not only settles the already existing disputes but also prevents new ones from arising.

Whether the Divorce Settlement Agreement in the cases of Divorce by Mutual Consent is absolutely necessary or not?

Although the divorce settlement agreement upholds utmost importance and is legally binding, it doesn’t by default mean that it is necessary for all the couples to make one. It solely depends on the case. As it pleases the couples, they leave it up to the court to decide all of their disagreements. However, it is generally advised to make a fair and clear divorce settlement agreement.

Important clauses which must be present in the divorce settlement agreement

  • Begin with the general clauses of the agreement, i.e., the name of the parties, the residence of the parties, and the assets that they own, which could also be included in the divorce settlement agreement.
  • In the case of a child born out of wedlock, the custody of that child as well as the visiting times are the major issues that need to be addressed in these cases.
  • The terms regarding the splitting of property must be clear, just as they also include the property that was jointly acquired by the couple.
  • Division of assets and liability for paying debts that were acquired in the joint name is a complicated and essential clause that must not be missed in the divorce settlement agreement.
  • Alimony or spouse support is provided by the earning partner to the other spouse; the amount of the money is decided after considering several factors, such as the financial status of the individuals.

What will happen if one of the spouses breaches the divorce settlement agreement?

After the divorce is finalised and the parties have signed the agreement, which signed agreement will be considered part of the court order, which has to be abided by both spouses. The divorce settlement agreement acts as a legally binding contract between the spouses. If any of the spouses fails to follow the contract, which will further result in a breach of contract, then the spouse has to face certain consequences.

When one of the spouses is not performing duties as per the contract, he or she is not only breaching the contract but also risking the rights of his or her estranged spouse. Before pursuing the court, the spouse could take certain steps to ensure that the defaulter spouse would refrain from any further breach of the contract.

The steps are as such follows:

Communicate with the Estranged- Spouse

The best way to avoid any further dispute is by way of communication, so the defaulter spouse would know that he or she is violating the terms and conditions of the said contract. It is possible that the default admitted by the spouse was not a deliberate action and that she has not realised its consequences. By way of communication, it is confirmed that there was no presence of any malicious intent. But even after communication, if the defaulter spouse is not taking any steps to correct his or her compliance, this could be used as evidence against them at the time of contempt proceedings, which will highlight their lack of obedience towards the said contract. Communication with the estranged spouse is not going to guarantee that compliance will be resolved, but it gives the spouses the scope to eradicate any possible misunderstandings.

Modification of Agreement in court

There are chances that the circumstances between the couple change. There could be an increment in the net income of any of the spouses, or any of the spouses could have faced some unforeseeable loss. Depending on the situation, the estranged spouses could ask for a modification in the signed contract before the court.

Contempt of Court

If one of the spouses has been breaching the divorce settlement agreement or contract, then the other spouse could file for contempt in court, as the defaulter spouse has violated the court order by not abiding by the court’s order. The contempt of court charge could be a criminal charge against the defaulter spouse, which may even result in imprisonment as a punishment. After the filing of the contempt, the court sends a serious message to the defaulter spouse that their inability to fulfil the obligations of the divorce settlement agreement or contract will not be tolerated.

Conclusion

Thus, the terms and conditions mentioned in the divorce settlement agreement or contract[1] must be complied with by both spouses, or else they could have to face the consequences of their non-compliance due to its legally binding nature.

Read Our Article: The Importance Of A Divorce Settlement Agreement In A Divorce Case

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