The Court of Appeal in Orange County Ruled That the Divorce Court May Order a Spouse to Pay or Deliver Property to a Third Party to Ensure Payment to the Other Spouse is Effectuated

Where a spouse does not complete their court ordered obligations, the divorce court may require that spouse to pay in court to ensure payment is completed.

In this Orange County divorce, wife had difficulty enforcing order obligating husband to pay wife a portion of his monthly military retirement pay.  Under Code of Civil Procedure section 572, the divorce court ordered husband to deposit wife’s portion with the court and the husband appealed. 

Husband’s divorce lawyer argued that section 572 provided for an exclusively pre-judgment remedy.  The Court of Appeal acknowledged section 572’s limitations, but upheld the divorce court’s order because, “Every court has power to compel obedience to its judgments and orders” and “a court of equity retains inherent jurisdiction to oversee and enforce execution of its decrees.”  The Court of Appeal concluded by finding that, “a court in a dissolution action has the power to order a spouse to pay money or deliver property into the hands of a third party cannot be doubted.”  In this divorce, the third party was the divorce court itself.

In re Marriage of Fithian (1977) 74 Cal. App. 3d 398