Division of property in a divorce can be complex and cause stress and anxiety. There is often a sense of relief and finality once property division is settled, but sometimes one spouse may refuse to adhere to the terms of the order. This should not be taken lightly, particularly in cases involving valuable property, such as a house.
People finding themselves in this situation can file a suit to enforce the property division order. The suit to enforce must be filed in the same court that entered the property division order. The party not following the order must be served with a copy of the suit and be given an opportunity to file a response.
If no response is received, a default judgment will be entered, meaning the party who filed the suit to enforce wins. If a response to the suit is filed, a hearing will be scheduled to address the problem and potentially clarify the property division terms. The other party may claim they do not understand the terms of the property division order, or allege they need more time to deliver the property.
Make sure to file at the right time
Texas has a two-year statute of limitations for enforcement orders. This means that if more than two years has passed since a divorce has been finalized and a spouse still has not received their property, it is too late to request the order be enforced. However, courts will generally give a spouse 30 days from the divorce finalization before addressing a suit to enforce, so it is important to not file too early.
An order to enforce is not meant to change or alter any of the previously entered property division terms, but rather set specific terms surrounding the property division. For example, if the other party states they are experiencing delays in transferring title of a home, the court may ask for an estimated time of completion and order a specific deadline for the transfer.
If the deadline passes and property is still not turned over, a motion for delivery of property can be filed. If a court orders property delivered on a certain date and it is not, as a last resort the court may order the other party to pay a sum of money rather than deliver the property.