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Texas Judges Take Divorce Decrees Seriously. So Should You.

A legal agreement carries a lot of weight and can be valid for years. It's crucial to abide by the terms in a decree to ensure a favorable outcome for both parties. In one case, a couple made an agreement and divorced. More than a decade passed and the decree was still enforceable.

Pay attention to the details

A couple that divorced signed an agreement stating that they would both share their child's college education costs. They agreed that they would both pay 50% of the costs and expenses associated with college education for their child. When the couple divorced, the child was only four years old. The ex-husband of the relationship ended contact with his daughter for quite some time. The daughter grew up and attended college from Fall 2004 until spring 2008.

After she had obtained her bachelor's degree, she discovered the decree and took it upon herself to send three certified letters to her father, requesting that the decree be honored and that she be paid for her college expenses. Scholarships and grants were not included in this amount.

Enforcing an agreement

As it turns out, the father did not respond to his daughter. So the daughter and ex-wife took the ex-husband to court in order to get the agreement enforced. The ex-husband claimed that the terms of the agreement had been previously breached, voiding the agreement. Subsequently, the ex-wife and daughter pointed out that the 10-year statute of limitations was still in place and, therefore, the decree still held legal grounds and could still be enforced. The judge agreed with them. 

Statute of limitations extended beyond the 10 years

Even though the 10-year statute of limitations on enforcement had passed, the court based its decision on when the daughter started paying for college - not 10 years from the date the decree was finalized, when the daughter was only four years old. In addition, the original decree had not specified a payment due date. If it had, the father may have been obligated to pay into a fund for her future college costs, within the 10 year statute of limitations.

The daughter and ex-wife filed the suit in 2013. They were within their 10-year statute of limitations which began when the daughter made the first payment. Since the ex-husband was unable to deny satisfaction of the conditions and had a lack of evidence. The judgment was affirmed in favor of the ex-wife and daughter.

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