Is Your Divorce Decree Also A Contract?

When it comes to people not doing what they should under their divorce decrees, it seems like contempt proceedings and enforcement get all the attention. These are valid ways to deal with post-divorce problems. But, when clients come to me with an enforcement issue I also automatically flip to the last page of their decree to see if both parties signed. If so, we can also often bring a breach of contract action against the non-complying party.

With an agreed decree of divorce, when one party tries to modify provisions of the agreement or has filed an enforcement action based on claims that the other person is not living up to their end of the deal, the defending party should consider a counterclaim for breach of contract and/or assert contractual defenses. Breach of contract claims are also important because they can allow you to recover your attorney’s fees incurred as a result of your ex’s breach.

If you and your ex both signed off on agreed decree in your Texas divorce look at page 2, it more than likely contains a provision called “Agreement of the Parties” that stipulates that, to the extent permitted by law, the agreements contained in your divorce decree are enforceable as a contract. While not all portions of an agreed decree will be treated as a contract by the court, contractual actions and defenses can be valuable in trying to hold your ex to the agreement should problems arise down the road.

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