Ways of Enforcing a Marital Settlement Agreement Are Limited

The divorce is over. The resulting marital settlement agreement (MSA) covering the areas of child support, parental timesharing (custody and visitation), division of marital property both personal and real, spousal support (alimony), and marital debt is signed and ordered by a judge. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean all parties agree with the agreement and/or are able to carry out what they have been mandated to do. Furthermore, some folks just refuse to do as they are told or maybe do only a part of it. Is there anything that can be done? Here are some of the ways to find relief. As a MSA is court ordered, with the help of an attorney experienced in family law, there are areas of enforcement provided by the court. Here are some ways to find relief.

    1. Alimony is difficult to obtain strict enforcement as it is costly to return to court and even then you “can’t get blood out of a turnip”. Sometimes the court will rule to put pressure on the offending spouse by garnishing retirement funds, social security, or wages. Enforcement is made increasingly difficult for there is no relocation limits put on parties, as when there are minor children, so the party wishing to avoid paying alimony may simply move to another state to avoid compliance and enforcement.


    1. When minor children are involved and there are child support and parental timesharing judgments being neglected, the state of Florida will provide several areas of enforcement to encourage the paying of arrears as well as honoring the guidelines spelled out in the parenting plan which is a part of all timesharing agreement and covers joint decision making on educational, medical, spiritual, and disciplinary matters. Failure to pay child support and its arrearages can cause a party to have their wages garnished, monies taken from their bank account, income tax refunds seized and given to the entitled party, the driver’s license, car plates, and registration can be withdrawn, and/or they can be ordered to spend up to 179 days in jail. Offenses involving timesharing and the parenting plan can result in contempt orders with appropriate enforcement, the payment of the other party’s attorney fees, and even some jail time.


  1. When it comes to the payment of ongoing debts such as mortgages, structured payment, and/or credit cards there is little relief even from the court as these types of debt are considered a private matter between the debt holder and the debtor. Unfortunately, bankruptcy is often the way to solve these issues even though the MSA requires a party to be responsible for the debt in question. if a person’s name is on the debt they are held responsible for payment, MSA or not.