Non-Compliance

Oftentimes clients will ask once an Order or Judgment of Divorce is entered, what happens if he/she does not comply with its terms? The bitter and harsh truth is that an Order or Judgment is a piece of paper that is enforceable by the Court. So what does that mean exactly? Well, in simplest terms, if a spouse or ex-spouse does not comply with its terms, then a enforcement application will have to be filed with the Court. That application, among seeking enforcement of the Order or Judgment, can also request additional relief such as the payment of counsel fees, sanctions, interest payments, possible jail time, etc.

Recently, the Appellate Division addressed this issue in the unpublished decision of Scheps v. Paparazzo, A-0717-08T1, decided July 29, 2009. This appeal stemmed after Wife filed several post judgment applications seeking to enforce the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement for her payments of alimony and a subsequent more detailed Consent Order regarding these payments. From the record it appears as though Husband had the ability to pay the monies owed, however he would not make these payments according to the schedule set forth in the Agreement and subsequent Orders.

After Husband had been found in violation of litigant’s rights on more than one occasion and judgments were entered and recorded against him , the parties entered into negotiations. As a result, a Consent Order was drafted and executed which carefully delineated the result of Husband’s continued non-compliance. The relevant portions stated that Husband would “pay any and all legal fees and costs associated with plaintiff’s enforcement of the terms of this Consent Order….., if defendant does not make timely payments on or before the first of each month as defined above, the defendant expressly agrees to pay the plaintiff interest in the amount of 6% per month on any balances due and owing…” The 6% monthly interest was in addition to a 7% annual interest on the monies owed.

Continue Reading Interest: Penalty or Right By Contract?