Money owed by ex-husband


#1

Hi folks - thank you for the service you provide!

My wife’s ex-husband still owes a sizable amount of money (over $300k) from their equitable distribution as documented in their original 2006 separation agreement. Soon after the divorce he lost his business and refused to pay although he was still supposed to be making payments. My wife hasn’t pushed the issue and basically has forgotten about it which obviously is not OK with me. :wink: My questions:

  • If she wants to maintain her rights to that $ in the future will she have to file anything with the courts now? Or is the original separation agreement enough?
  • Is there a statue of limitations on his legal responsibility to pay? If so, when?
  • Could we file a judgement against his estate even if he has a Will?
  • Does interest accrue for ever year he doesn’t pay?

Thanks!


#2

Your wife can pursue an action for breach of contract to recover the money. If the separation agreement was signed under seal, the statute of limitations is extended to 10 years from discovery of the breach and she may move forward with her claim.

Her ex-husband could use the affirmative defense of laches in an effort to thwart her recovery. North Carolina law states that : 1) the doctrine of laches applies where a delay of time has resulted in some change in the condition of the property or in the relations of the parties; 2) the delay necessary to constitute laches depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case; however, the mere passage of time is insufficient to support a finding of laches; 3) the delay must be shown to be unreasonable and must have worked to the disadvantage, injury or prejudice of the person seeking to invoke the doctrine of laches; and 4) the defense of laches will only work as a bar when the claimant knew of the existence of the grounds for the claim.
If the agreement does not state expressly what will happen in the event of a party’s death, the court would look to the intent of the parties at the time the agreement was executed.

Interest may accrue if the agreement contemplated interest for late payments.