What Can the Court Do if The Property Division Order Is Ignored?

By Jones & Associates Law P.C.

In Pennsylvania divorces in which there may be substantial assets at stake, it is important to understand all aspects of the law surrounding property division. Of course, the most basic concept is equitable distribution. The marital property will be divided in a way the court considers fair. That does not automatically mean equally. When people own a business, a home, a vacation home, automobiles and collectibles, they can be hard to surrender even if there is a court order to do so. When there is a belief that a party is hiding assets or not adhering to the agreement or order, the court has ways to ensure there is compliance.

Remedies the Court May Use for Property Division Compliance

Once a decision is made by the court, the parties are expected to adhere to it. If they do not, the court can do the following: authorize that the property be taken to comply with the order; award interest for that which was supposed to be paid but was not; order property to be transferred or sold so the order will be followed; require the obligated former spouse to pay security to make sure the payments are made in the future; move forward with an attachment proceeding in which law enforcement will bring the person before the court and possibly hold that person in contempt; compel the person to pay counsel fees and costs; and attach their wages.

The categorization of an item being marital property or separate property can be a fundamental part of the case. If, for example, a person had a business before the marriage, then that will still be theirs after they divorce. However, if the business improved due to contributions of the spouse who did not own it, that improvement and its value could be deemed marital property. The same holds true for personal items that accrued in value during the marriage. All property should be inventoried and appraised as part of a case to try and have a baseline before it is divided.

Property Division Disputes Generally Require Professional Assistance

From the start of a family law case, a litany of issues will come to the forefront, especially in contentious cases. Property division is one challenging factor that may be an obstacle to moving on. As the property is split and parties are ordered to follow what the court says, there may still be a back and forth or outright ignoring of the order. With retirement accounts, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, bitcoin, collectibles, real estate, a business and more, it is useful to have professional guidance to be protected and achieve a positive outcome with the order being followed.