Can an ex-spouse make demands based on an older marital separation agreement (MSA) made before a divorce decree and where the divorce decree outlines conditions that are different from the old MSA and where the decree makes no reference to the old MSA?
To explain further...the MSA was made at the time of separation in order to divide assets and document obligations. The ex did not make use of everything that was offered on the MSA such as vocational evaluation and training to re-enter the workforce (as that might have compromised alimony), all to be paid for by myself. When the final divorce decree was drawn no reference was made to this prior MSA, instead division of some assets was outlined (but not everything listed in the older MSA) and unconditional spousal support was mutually agreed on for a fixed period (not present in old MSA).
It's 4 years since this MSA and 2 years since the decree. The EX has ignored obligations outlined in the decree such as refinancing the mortgage but now wants me to pay for vocational evaluation as per the old MSA and threatens to take court action if I don't. Maybe unemployability will garner court sympathy. Dunno.
What are my rights?
If the divorce judgment was signed by the court, that is the controlling document. The divorce judgment is the document that is enforceable. Unemployability doesn't garner sympathy and judges aren't supposed to make decisions based on "sympathy" As to spousal support, it is decided on Family Code Section 4320.
If the agreement was informal, the judgment replaces it completely. That said, no full answer can be given without all the details. Finally... rights are costly. Mediation holds much more promise.
All of Ms. Straus’ responses posted on Avvo are intended as helpful information, based solely upon the facts stated in the question, and are not to be relied upon as a full or complete legal opinion. It may not be what you wished to hear, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. Ms. Straus has been licensed to practice law in California for 33 years. Ms. Straus regrets that she does not provide follow up free advice via email. Good luck.
You can file a Request for Order to enforce whatever provisions are included in the actual Judgment. If the old MSA wasn't considered, it has no bearing on the actual Judgment.
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