Divorce is never easy. Even when the parties decide to agree on all issues and sign an uncontested divorce. I tell my client’s all the time, only agree to pay martial debts if you think you can. If you agree to pay for martial debts and have trouble later meeting those obligations, the court is going to make you pay them, regardless of your financial situation.
If you are not able to agree on a property settlement, then the court will decide who receives the marital property.
What happens to property acquired during the marriage when two parties get a divorce? Typically, if there is a trial, the court determines how the marital property is to be divided and the obligations each party owes the other.
In other words, the court instructs each party how much alimony is to be awarded and who will get the marital residence, cars, pensions, and other property acquired during the marriage. It is important that you consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable in the area of family law. Determining what is and what is not marital property can be a difficult determination.
Typically, once a court enters a property settlement dividing the marital and non-marital assets of both parties, then the property settlement agreement is not subject to modification. However, what happens when one of the party’s refuses to comply with the court’s order?
This is exactly the situation the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals recently found itself deciding in Reneman v. Reneman. In March of 2008, pursuant to a settlement agreement, the trial court ordered the husband to pay the wife $350 dollars each week toward three fixed debts owed to CitiFinancial. The trial court awarded the marital residence to the wife. The husband was also ordered to pay the wife $250 dollars per week as permanent and continued alimony. \
In 2014, the husband began paying the loan payments directly to CitiFinancial instead of to the wife. The husband then told the wife that he was no longer going to make the payments as he was ordered to do by the trial court.
Shortly after the husband refused to continue making mortgage payments, the wife was facing foreclosure on the marital residence. Therefore, the wife had to take out a loan through the Alabama Teachers Credit Union, so that CitiFinancial would not foreclose on the marital residence which was awarded to the wife.
The wife sued the husband claiming that the husband had breached their settlement agreement as ordered by the court. At trial, the husband even acknowledged that he still owed $23,546 dollars pursuant to the terms of the divorce agreement. The trial court refused the wife’s petition. The wife then appealed.
The appellate court reversed the trial court noting that to uphold the trial court’s decision would be unfair and unequitable. After all, as I previously mentioned, once a trial court enters an order dividing marital property, this decision by the trial court is not subject to modification. Therefore, it is important that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney when getting a divorce, because determining what is and what is not marital property subject to division can be a trying determination.
The moral of the story is to seek sound legal advice before filing for divorce. If you are need of a divorce attorney, contact Ingram Law LLC at 205-438-6666 or (205) 656-0044. We represent client’s in every county of the state of Alabama.