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Could you explain the situation a bit more fully? It sounds as though there is a contract (typically joint obligations means that one party will do X for the other, and the other party in turn will do Y for the first... that's a contract). If you can explain a bit more about the situation, I can better answer your question.
its a divorce- ex wife refuses to pay her portion of out of pocket medical expenses for minor child as defined in the divorce decree, forcing me to go to court to recover them. This is in clear violation of the judgment. so the question is-is the judgment/divorce decree a contract between the two parties and what are the legal ramifications of non compliance? Is there any precedent for seeking damages above and beyond what was sustained ?
If there was an agreement in place (such as a marital settlement agreement) where this was agreed to and signed by the wife, that would be a contract. A judicially ordered obligation, via a court order, would be a court order (and could be enforced via contempt proceedings).
The legal ramifications of noncompliance would first be an "order to show cause".
An OSC is where the court tells her to explain herself and why she disobeyed a court order.
If she cannot do so, the court can hold her in "contempt". The ramifications of this is that she would be ordered to sell within a certain time period, otherwise she can have assets garnished / seized, wages garnished, and could even go to jail if the refusal is blatant enough.
Furthermore, if there's no good reason, she would be on the hook for the other party's attorneys fees, court costs, etc...
right- there is a marital settlement agreement and it has been judicially ordered
can I seek treble damages
So it could either be sued upon under a breach of contract theory, or could be held in contempt.
No. Treble damages are very rare, and typically require that there be deceptive business practices, bad faith insurance claims, etc...
You could ask for "discretionary sanctions".
That would be monetary amount that the judge could order, over and above your actual damages, to "punish" her for the disobedience.
in other words-whatever else the court deems fair and just
Since there is an order, I would suggest going to court for contempt. If you were to sue for breach of contract, you would still have to get an order, and then try to enforce that. You're already 2/3 of the way with the court order, so contempt would be the quicker, more effective route in my opinion.
Yes, what the court deems is fair and just given the circumstances.
And that could be 3x your actual damages. It couldn't hurt to ask for it. But there's no right to get treble damages in such a situation (if the judge finds contempt). It's discretionary on the part of the judge.
ok thanks- been helpful
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