Each family law action ends with the entry of a final order or judgment, whether agreed to by the parties or determined by an arbitrator or judge. The order or judgment defines the rights and obligations of the parties. As life circumstances change during the months and years following entry of the order of judgment, many individuals and families struggle to meet the demands of those judgments or orders.
If a substantial, unforeseen change occurs after the entry of the final order or judgment, one can apply to the court to modify the existing order, which is known as a "post-judgment" modification. Common post-judgment modifications include, but are not limited to:
- Child Support Modification: A parent may request a change to the amount of child support ordered when a substantial change in the circumstances surrounding the support of the child can be effectively demonstrated to the court, commonly an upward or downward change in income of either party or a change of overnight parenting time.
- Child Custody/Parenting Time Modifications: A parent may make a request to change the existing child custody or parenting time court orders if a significant change in circumstances or proper cause exists to warrant a modification of current child custody and parenting time orders. However, any modification must be in the child's best interest.
- Change of Domicile: A parent wishing to relocate more than 100 miles from a child's domicile to move out-of-state, either with or without the minor child or children, must request permission of the court to make the relocation. Even if the parents agree to the relocation, a judge must still review the matter and enter an order.
- Alimony Modification: A spouse may request a change to the existing amount of spousal support or alimony owed if they can demonstrate a substantial change in the circumstances surrounding the spousal support or alimony which warrants the alteration of an alimony award and the order or judgment provides that spousal support or alimony is modifiable.
Sometimes, despite the existence of a judgment or order, a party fails to comply with its terms. When that occurs, a party may need to file with the court to force the other party to comply with the terms of the judgment or order. Common enforcement issues include:
- Failure to pay child support or spousal support
- Failure to comply with requirements to furnish medical insurance and medical support
- Failure to remove a spouse’s name from a mortgage
- Failure to distribute assets, pay debts or comply with other provisions of the property settlement agreement
Varnum attorneys are experienced in representing clients in all aspects of post-judgment modifications and enforcement, helping to make adjustments when there are personal, financial, legal and emotional changes and to ensure compliance with court orders and judgments.