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  1. #1
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    Dec 2016
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    Default How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    My question involves a marriage in the state of: Washington

    I posted a while back about an appeal for payment of a divorce judgment, and we did not win. Which all of you predicted. However, it did not seriously impact us because the attorney had done the appeal pro bono. That was something I wasn't able to share before due the situation. Some of you predicted sanctions, but that did not occur.

    Now we are at the point where the judgment was due in September. Here's the wording from the judgment and subsequent amendment as a refresher.

    Here's the exact wording from the decree with specifics removed...
    "Wife shall owe husband an equalization payment in the amount of $xxx. This shall bear no interest and wife shall pay at her ability. Wife shall have an affirmative duty to make good faith and reasonable efforts to remit payments in a prompt and timely manner so as to not take advantage of husband's agreement to waive interest and specific repayment terms. If equalization payment has not been paid in full by the time the parties' youngest child graduates high school, payment shall be due in full within 90 days of child's graduation."

    And here's the wording from the amendment...
    "The parties intend to abide by the Decree of Dissolution regarding the court ordered debt. The terms of payment are outlined in the (sic) Decree, however the parties want to add clarity to ensure understanding between the parties regarding payment of the debt. Both parties agree the debt will not be due until 90 days after the youngest child graduates high school. The approximate date the debt is to be paid in full is September 2017. In the event the debt can be paid prior to that, the paying party may do so without any prepayment penalty. Should the child not complete high school, the debt is still due 90 days after what would have been the child's anticipated graduation date."

    The child is now 19. She had not completed high school. She is going to an alternative school, and IF she graduates, it won't be for a while. She has not taken her classes seriously.

    The wife has made no action toward resolving the judgment, even though she just sold a rental house for $150k in September that was fully paid off. My husband has contacted her via email to ask about resolving this, and she has not replied.

    We are trying to sort out if it makes sense to try to enforce the judgment in court. We really don't want to spend the money, but the ex wife seems to be completely silent about this situation, and my husband's been in a financial holding pattern for over 10 years waiting to get his name off that mortgage.

    What would you do? Is the wording too vague to pursue without the youngest graduating?

  2. #2
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    Oct 2006
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quote Quoting oldsmom
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    What would you do? Is the wording too vague to pursue without the youngest graduating?
    No, its not. He needs to head back to court and get it reduced to a judgment so that he can garnish whatever can be garnished.

  3. #3
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    Dec 2016
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quick update.

    My husband sent her a registered letter at the end of October asking her to please update him on her plan to fulfill the divorce decree, or he will have to pursue legal channels and ask for attorney fees since this is poor faith. She has not responded in any manner. Not even a text message. She signed for the letter, but that was it.

    But I just found on the county assessor website that she just bought yet another house this week for $210k.

    The attorney wants $5k as a retainer. And our worry is that this will go to court, and she will plea that it was a different interpretation since the youngest has still not graduated. So while he might win, it will cost $5k or more to get there, and the judge could decide that it wasn't poor faith. So we just lose that money.

    Is there any risk in waiting until the youngest finally graduates, and then file? In theory that will be June. That would make the poor faith argument much cleaner. Or could that somehow bite us?

    Or do you think this is already a clean enough argument of poor faith, and we have decent odds of collecting attorney fees at this point?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quote Quoting oldsmom
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    Quick update.

    My husband sent her a registered letter at the end of October asking her to please update him on her plan to fulfill the divorce decree, or he will have to pursue legal channels and ask for attorney fees since this is poor faith. She has not responded in any manner. Not even a text message. She signed for the letter, but that was it.

    But I just found on the county assessor website that she just bought yet another house this week for $210k.

    The attorney wants $5k as a retainer. And our worry is that this will go to court, and she will plea that it was a different interpretation since the youngest has still not graduated. So while he might win, it will cost $5k or more to get there, and the judge could decide that it wasn't poor faith. So we just lose that money.

    Is there any risk in waiting until the youngest finally graduates, and then file? In theory that will be June. That would make the poor faith argument much cleaner. Or could that somehow bite us?

    Or do you think this is already a clean enough argument of poor faith, and we have decent odds of collecting attorney fees at this point?
    How much money are we talking about?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    It's between $20-$50k.

    Additionally, I just found in the paperwork that the last judge, as well as the court of appeals clearly stated in the rulings that the deadline was indeed September 2017 for her to pay the amount owed.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quote Quoting oldsmom
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    It's between $20-$50k.

    Additionally, I just found in the paperwork that the last judge, as well as the court of appeals clearly stated in the rulings that the deadline was indeed September 2017 for her to pay the amount owed.
    20-50k is a big difference. While I would not particularly want to pay an attorney 5k to get me 20k I might think differently about paying 5k to get 50k.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Well, we retained an attorney and he filed to get a judgment. He asked for interest on the amount owed, accruing since September when the payment was due, and attorney fees.

    The ex replied with a Motion to Dismiss because she believes she can wait until the youngest graduates high school. She also made a bunch of false allegations that my husband is stopping her from making payments on the amount due because he hasn't signed a quit claim deed on the marital home. To be fair, he hasn't signed the quit claim deed, but the attorney instructed him to not do so until his name is off that mortgage. And she doesn't need him to sign a quit claim deed to pay off the judgment.

    Our attorney is debating filing a response to her motion. He thinks the judgment is pretty cut and dry since the Court of Appeals mandate included supporting the September due date. He doesn't want to muddy the waters on a simple judgment. But she has sold two rental properties in the last two years that were inherited and fully paid off. We have the records to show this. She could have paid off the judgment if she chose to do so.

    What do you think? In this situation would you file a response?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quote Quoting oldsmom
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    In this situation would you file a response?
    Why do you care? Your attorney certainly knows the system better than any stranger on this forum.

    You should be discussing this with your attorney. If you feel your attorney is not competent then you should hire someone else.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quote Quoting Highwayman
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    Why do you care? Your attorney certainly knows the system better than any stranger on this forum.

    You should be discussing this with your attorney. If you feel your attorney is not competent then you should hire someone else.
    Wow... you know there are plenty of decaffeinated options out there...

    Obviously we have been talking with him about it, and he is quite competent. But even being competent, he is on the fence about it.

    You do know what a forum is for, right? I mean, the whole point of this website is to discuss things with strangers and get ideas or opinions.

    As to why I care? Because it's my money that is paying for the attorney, and really hoping we can get the money back if attorney fees are awarded.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How to Enforce a Property Judgment After Divorce

    Quote Quoting oldsmom
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    Wow... you know there are plenty of decaffeinated options out there...
    For the record, I don't drink coffee.

    You certainly didn't make it sound as if your attorney is on the fence about the response.

    If you want to respond then just insist he file a response to the motion. It'll only cost you an hour or two of his time.

    I am not an attorney, but I can't see how filing a response to a motion can be a bad thing - but I am not trying to second guess your attorney.

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