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Enforcing the Property Division in a Divorce

Family, Divorce & Children

You can ask the court to enforce the property division ordered in your final decree if your ex-spouse is not following the court order.

In this article, get answers to frequently asked questions about how to enforce the division of property after a divorce including how to enforce the decree and what the court can do to enforce the division.

Who enforces the division of property within the divorce decree?

The court that ordered the final decree of divorce enforces the property division.

Texas Family Code 9.002.

Are child support or spousal maintenance part of the property division in a divorce decree?

No, child support and spousal maintenance are separate from the property division, and enforcing them is different from enforcing property division. You can read Enforcing Your Child Support Orders on Your Own if you need to enforce child support.

Texas Family Code 8.059, 157.001, and 157.002.

What if my ex-spouse does not do what the judge orders in the property division?

You may file a motion for enforcement of the decree asking the court to enforce the property division in your divorce decree. An order of enforcement does not amend, modify, or alter the original property division in the decree.

An enforcement only helps in the performance of or to specifies how the property is to be divided. You will file the motion for enforcement if your ex-spouse is not following the orders set out in the property division. The other party must receive notice by citation and file a written answer to avoid a default judgment.

Texas Family Code 9.001(c), 9.006, and 9.007.

How long do I have to request enforcement of a division of property order?

There is a two-year statute of limitation to file a suit to enforce against a former spouse. This two-year time period starts on the date the original divorce decree was signed by the judge or becomes final after an appeal, whichever date is later. Read Statutes of Limitations in Civil Lawsuits to learn more about what this means.

Texas Family Code 9.003(a).

What can't an order of enforcement do?

An order of enforcement cannot alter the divorce decree in any way. It can only clarify the decree, or provide instructions on how to implement the divorce decree. Any type of enforcement that alters the divorce decree is beyond the powers of the court, and is unenforceable. 

Texas Family Code 9.007.

When can I file a motion to enforce the division of property order?

The court is unable to grant an order of enforcement until 30 days after the date the divorce decree is signed by the judge. If there has been a timely motion for a new trial or to vacate, modify, correct, or reform the decree, the court cannot grant an order of enforcement until 30 days after the motion has been granted or overruled.

Texas Family Code 9.007(c).

What if it is not clear how the property was divided in the divorce?

Sometimes, parties may not comply with a divorce decree because they are unclear about the specific details outlined by the judge. Either party can request a clarifying order before filing a motion for contempt or in conjunction with a motion for contempt. This will let the court further specify what property belongs to who and how it should be divided.

Texas Family Code 9.008(a).

What if my ex-spouse does not comply with the clarifying order?

You can file a motion for delivery of property. The court can order the delivery of the property that was awarded in the divorce decree.

Texas Family Code 9.009.

What if my ex-spouse does not comply with the order for delivery of property?

If your ex-spouse fails to comply with the division of property in the divorce decree and the order for the delivery of property, the court can award you a money judgment for the damages caused by your ex-spouse’s failure to comply.

See Texas Family Code 9.010 (a).

What is my last resort if my ex-spouse still does not follow court orders?

You will need a lawyer to help you draft and file a motion for contempt. Your ex-spouse can be held in contempt of court if they do not comply with a court order.

Texas Family Code 9.012 (a).

What does “contempt” mean?

Contempt is when a court orders a fine or jail time when it finds the ex-spouse is not complying with a divorce decree or other court order.

Who pays the cost for the proceedings to enforce the division of property in the divorce decree?

You can ask the court to award you court costs and reasonable attorney's fees for the pursuit of enforcing the division of property.

Texas Family Code 9.012 and 9.014.

Should I talk to a lawyer about enforcing the property division?

These basic instructions are not a substitute for the legal advice and counsel of a lawyer. A lawyer is trained to protect your legal rights. Even if you decide to represent yourself, try to talk to a lawyer about your case before filing anything.

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