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Can I expect to be reimbursed all my attorney fees if I file contempt motion against my ex spouse for breach of contract?

Q: I was divorced 18 months ago. My now ex-spouse didn’t want the divorce and delayed as much as he could throughout the entire process. We both are still living in the house. We both had competent lawyers. As part of our Stipulation Agreement, we agreed to list the house for sale. We also agreed that I would be allowed to perform certain tasks to make the house market ready. However, when I tried to complete the tasks, he threatened me. He even threatened the professional who I hired to complete one of the tasks. My lawyer sent two letters (RRR) with time in between letting him know he was breaching our contract. He wouldn’t budge. After awhile, I gave up my right to complete the tasks and just asked the realtor we agreed to use to write up the listing agreement. Over a course of several months, the realtor and I tried to get my ex to cooperate and sign the listing agreement. He refused. My lawyer sent him another letter (RRR) to no avail. If I file contempt charges, will he have to pay my attorney fees? There is a clause in our agreement that suggests he would. My lawyer won’t commit to comment.

A: That’s the general rule – if one violates the terms of an agreement incorporated into the divorce judgment, one would owe reimbursement of counsel fees as a sanction. This assumes the Judge finds his violation was “willful.” For a 2d opinion, schedule a consult with a White Plains Family Law attorney.

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