Jane’s Law would penalize exes who move to avoid court orders

On Behalf of | Mar 13, 2024 | Family Law

A member of Congress from California is one of the co-sponsors of a bill that, if it becomes law, would help prevent people from evading their responsibility to comply with property division orders in separation or divorce cases.

The bill makes it a federal offense to travel across state lines to intentionally avoid complying with an order. Currently, there’s sometimes nothing than can be done legally to retrieve assets when this occurs, leaving spouses unable to get or keep what is rightfully theirs.

Jane’s Law

The legislation is named Jane’s Law after a woman who won a long court battle to get millions of dollars’ worth of assets that her husband kept after the divorce. After she finally prevailed, her husband moved out of state. This prevented the enforcement of the arrest warrant against him. That woman lived in New York, where another representative co-sponsoring the bill is from. However, it can happen anywhere, which is why a change in federal law would help people no matter where they live in the U.S.

That New York co-sponsor says, “Jane’s Law is a commonsense, bipartisan solution that would ensure the verdict of a court cannot be ignored simply by crossing state lines and ensure there is justice for individuals who have been financially wronged by their former partners.” The California lawmaker behind the legislation is Rep. Jim Costa, who represents Fresno and the surrounding area.

Potential consequences for violating the law

Among the consequences for violating the law would be a fine and/or up to two years in prison. Anyone convicted of this offense would also have to pay restitution for the amount of property they refused to distribute according to the court order.

It remains to be seen if and when the legislation makes it out of Congress, which hasn’t been getting a lot passed lately. However, the fact that the co-sponsors are of different parties and it certainly could benefit anyone, regardless of party affiliation, who’s dealing with a particularly defiant former spouse, could help move it along.

In the meantime, if you believe that your ex won’t comply with the property division (or any other) terms of your divorce – or they’re already dragging their feet – it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance on your side to more effectively protect your rights and your financial future.