Post Judgment Remedies
A divorce decree is a snapshot in time. It is meant to make sense, to work, under the circumstances that existed at that time. Provisions are made for the future – for things like educational expenses – but they are for the expected.
Life, as we have all learned in the last few years, seldom follows the ‘expected’ script. The only constant in life is that things change.
No one, in fact, can count on most things in their life staying the same over years. It’s unrealistic to expect that divorce, custody, alimony, and other family law decrees and agreements are somehow immune.
People, circumstances, jobs, health, children and their needs can and do change. It can take months or years; it can happen seemingly overnight with no warning. People lose jobs. Educational needs change. People move to new states, other countries for work, family, and other perfectly valid reasons. The list is endless. All changes that could affect the intent of the original decree and agreements.
Some people make choices that negatively affect their ex-spouse and children. Others refuse to follow the terms of agreements.
Regardless of the reasons, it is sometimes possible to adjust judgements, orders, decisions, and agreements to reflect changes or correct malfeasance.
It’s not automatic and it’s not easy, but it can be done. The Court must be presented with convincing evidence that there have been substantial changes in circumstances or a party is not following the terms of the divorce agreement. The Court may then decide that a modification is appropriate.
Of course, you and your ex can always agree on changes before turning to the court and make the process much simpler and less stressful.
If that isn’t possible, it may be time to file a motion.
Motion to Modify
A Motion to Modify is what it sounds like: asking the court to change some element(s) of a divorce order. You may need a modification of child support if, for example, you lose a job, get a new job, or experience a significant life change. A motion may also be used to tweak a parenting plan or custody agreement to accommodate your child’s needs as they grow older.
Motion for Contempt/Compel
Somewhere, sometime, your ex refuses to follow the terms of the divorce as ordered by the court.
Depending on the type of document that resolved your case, you may ask the Court to hold them in contempt and either punish them or to make [compel] them to obey the order.
The goal of a motion is simple: to put you back to where you would have been had the other person done what they were supposed to do.
There are more motions and various combinations of the ones above. What’s important is to understand that you do not have to ‘take it’ when your ex is not doing what they are supposed to do, what they agreed to do.
Contact us as soon as possible, don’t wait for ‘things to work themselves out’ – they seldom do