Jack and Jill were able to resolve the legal issues arising from the breakdown of their marriage amicably, and by way of a written contract formalizing their settlement framework. As a part of that settlement framework, Jill agreed to pay Jack a large sum of money in exchange for his interest in their business and a waiver of his claim for spousal support, and also to transfer her interest in their home to him. Unfortunately, after the Agreement was signed and Jack transferred his interest in the business to her, Jill claimed that she was unable to pay the amounts owed to him. How did this happen? What can Jack do?
Jack’s lawyer ought to have protected his interests initially by setting out specific deadlines for the payments he is owed, and by imposing trust conditions on Jill’s lawyer to ensure that those payments occur. Additionally, it would have been advisable for his waiver of spousal support to have been made specifically contingent on the matrimonial property equalization payment being made to him in order to shield him from Jill declaring bankruptcy. In any set of legal circumstances, it is clear that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Now that Jill has defaulted on her payment, Jack has the option of either commencing a civil action against her for breach of contract, or to apply to the Court to enforce the matrimonial property settlement under the parties’ divorce action. Which approach is best depends on the circumstances, including the specific terms of the parties’ contract.
If you would like more information on how to best protect yourself in structuring a matrimonial or family property settlement, or about enforcing the obligations of your former spouse, please contact myself or one of our other knowledgeable divorce and family law practitioners for a consultation.