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  • Writer's pictureSummers Family Law

Spouse Didn't Follow the Divorce Agreement. Now What?

As a divorce attorney, I've seen my fair share of cases where one spouse fails to uphold their end of the divorce agreement. It can be incredibly frustrating, not to mention costly, for the other spouse. A recent Appeals Court decision highlights just how serious the consequences can be.

The Case of the Missing Health Insurance

Greta and Hamid's divorce was finalized in January 2022. Part of their divorce agreement required Hamid to provide Greta with health insurance through his employer for three months post-divorce. After that, he was supposed to inform Greta about COBRA so she could continue coverage.

Hamid dropped the ball on both counts. Greta had to go out of pocket for three months of premiums totaling $2,573.67. And because Hamid failed to give her the COBRA info, she ended up overpaying for a year's worth of coverage by $3,514.32.

Needless to say, Greta was not happy.

Contempt of Court with a Hefty Price Tag

She filed a complaint for contempt of court against Hamid. After a hearing, the judge ruled in Greta's favor and ordered Hamid to reimburse her $6,088 for the insurance costs. But that's not all - the judge also required Hamid to pay Greta's $13,750 legal bill for having to bring the contempt action.

Hamid appealed, arguing the remedies were excessive and that he shouldn't have to pay Greta's attorney fees since his violation was just an oversight, not obstructionist behavior. The Appeals Court disagreed on both counts.

Lessons Learned

This case underscores a few key points:

1. Divorce agreements are legally binding contracts. Violating them can have major financial consequences.

2. Paying attorney fees is a common punishment for contempt. The offending spouse essentially has to make the other spouse "whole" for having to go to court.

3. Don't expect judges to go easy on you just because you claim you simply "forgot" part of the agreement. They have broad discretion to order fitting remedies.

The moral of the story? Follow your divorce judgment to the letter, or you may find yourself in Hamid's expensive situation. As a divorce attorney, I always stress to clients the importance of full compliance - no exceptions. An ounce of prevention is worth vastly more than the cost of contempt proceedings down the line.

Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers should not act upon any information provided without seeking professional legal counsel. The author does not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information provided. This blog is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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