My divorce decree (in New Mexico) states that we will sell the house and each of us will pay one-half the mortgage until it sells. It also states she can live there until it sells. She is refusing to pay her half of the mortgage. I can no longer afford an attorney -- the divorce wiped me out. What do you suggest I do to force her to fulfill the terms of the decree?
Country relating to Question: United States
State (if USA): New Mexico
She is totally uncooperative and is not willing to listen to reason. She sees this as getting back at me for divorcing her.
Thank you for your question.We cannot legally or by the Terms of Service or by our Expert Agreements with JustAnswer give specific legal advice about what a person should do.We can, however, describe the types of options which typically exist in general situations.First, courts are a bit reluctant to really "force" someone to obey a court order. Contempt proceedings are the way that is done, and the good news is that with them being in an existing case, there are no filing fees. A motion for an "order to show cause" is made to the court, outlining what was ordered and how the moving party believes that the court's order is being flouted. These can often be requested "ex parte", depending on local rules, with the motion including a proposed order which has the date and time for the hearing blank and to be filled in by the court IF the motion is granted. If you are NOT lucky, the motion itself will have to be set for hearing, the motion served on the opposing party and time for an opposition to the motion and a reply to the opposition to be filed, and only after the hearing will the court set the "show cause" hearing.At the show cause hearing, the non-obeying party gets to show cause why they should NOT be held in contempt. Guess what the easiest defense is? Inability to comply, as in broke. However, if there was the same financial ability to pay as at the time of the order being issued, no job loss since then, no illness or car disaster or other unexpected VALID expense arising, then paying for a few months and then just quitting for no VALID reason could bring a contempt ruling.Once held in contempt, the contemnor is usually ordered AGAIN to do what was in the order, plus often pay the moving party's attorney's fees and costs (mail and such), and anything else the court decides in its sound discretion is appropriate. Judges usually give people ten or thirty days to pull it off and "cure" the contempt.If that doesn't work, a person who enjoys a well-written order will have some self-executing type provision, such as file an affidavit reporting the non-compliance, and a bench warrant would then immediately issue and any other sanctions would become effective. Once that happens, another hearing could be scheduled, at which time the person could even be jailed (depending on several factors) either up to five or seven or never to my knowledge more than 30 days.This is the legal route. It moves a bit slowly and is cumbersome, but is seen as an appropriate restraint on the heavy hand of government, keeping its force from being applied rashly and in ways to scrupulously avoid making any mistakes. There are due process concerns of Constitutional magnitude implicated as well.The non-legal routes, other than begging and persuading, are usually also illegal. I won't go there.One could pull this off without an attorney by studying up on the local law. I recommend a Civil Practice Guide for your state (New Mexico--I don't know whether West/Mitchie is the only decent source), combined with a check on the "local rules" for the courts in your county. Not every county has local rules, but if they do, anyone playing in those courtrooms is *expected* to learn and abide by them.Other options are borrowing money to pay for legal representation, orborrowing money to pay both halves of the mortgage until it sells (IF there is enough equity in the property to be worth protecting, this might be merely a financial rather than a legal decision), and asking the Court once the sale documents are signed and BEFORE closing to adjust the division of proceeds to compensate for the inequalityor doing nothing and trying to get the place sold before Foreclosure is completedorjust doing nothing and letting the place get foreclosed on. No financial adjustment would be needed if BOTH parties are equal in number of payments missed.Divorce or not, and poor or not, one cannot expect to live in an unpaid-for home for free, unless someone else is paying on the mortgage.Thank you.BAB.
Twelve years of experience in estate planning and probate, consumer bankruptcy, and business law.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).