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Spouse loses rights under divorce order

A recent case from Tennessee sends a strong message that if your ex doesn’t live up to the terms of your divorce decree, you should contact a family lawyer right away. That’s because if you wait too long to hold him or her accountable, you may lose your rights altogether.

The Tennessee case involved a situation where a husband was ordered to pay his ex-wife $50,000. The marital dissolution agreement called for an initial $25,000 payment followed by five annual payments of $5,000 each.


The couple reconciled after the divorce and lived together for five years, although they did not remarry.


The couple reconciled after the divorce and lived together for five years, although they did not remarry. During this time, the husband apparently did not pay what he owed according to the divorce agreement. When they broke up for a second time the wife took him to court to enforce the $50,000 award.

A family court judge ordered the husband to pay, but the Tennessee Court of Appeals overturned the judgment, citing a 10-year statute of limitations under state law.

The wife had argued that the clock had not run out under the statute of limitations because she brought her action within 10 years of when her ex-husband violated the divorce order.

But the court said it was too late because she filed more than 10 years after the order was entered.

The wife clearly understood what her rights were under the divorce, but she did not understand how long she had to exercise them. A good family lawyer will make these issues very clear and ensure his or her clients don’t make a similar mistake.

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