Post-Judgment Modification Order
After your divorce is finalized, the court will issue divorce decrees that settle questions like custody arrangements, visitation schedules, child support payments, and spousal support payments. But what happens if circumstances change, or if you’re dissatisfied with the outcome? In some cases, divorce judgments can be revisited and, when it makes sense, adjusted. Below, we discuss how to obtain a post-judgment order, and how a Rochester Hills MI divorce attorney at Sumner & Associates, P.C. can help.
Appealing a Divorce Decree
A divorce decree remains in effect until one or the other party can show cause to modify it. If, however, one spouse feels as though the trial court judge did not apply the law correctly, they can appeal the decision to a higher court. If the parties reach a settlement, the agreement cannot be appealed.
In order to appeal a divorce order, you must be able to establish that the trial court judge made an error in either procedure or judgment that materially affected the outcome of the case. If successful, the appeals court will invalidate the divorce judgment and the process must begin again.
Modifying a Divorce Decree
The court may consider a post-judgment modification order when there is a change in circumstances regarding:
Either party in a divorce can file a post-judgment modification order. In cases where both parties can come to an extrajudicial agreement, their lawyers need only file papers with the court and the new agreement becomes legally enforceable.
Contesting a Post-Judgment Modification
Let’s say one spouse wants to modify the original or current divorce decree but the other spouse is opposed to that modification. When this happens, the court holds a hearing. The spouse petitioning for the modification must provide evidence as to why the court should grant the modification order while the opposed spouse must provide evidence as to why they shouldn’t. The court then renders a decision based on whether or not there is sufficient cause to modify the existing agreement.
In some cases, it may be possible to challenge an order related to property division. Generally speaking, the spouse petitioning for the modification would need to show that the other spouse fraudulently hid assets or under-reported their income.
Modifications to Child Support or Alimony
The court will use the Michigan Child Support Formula to determine how much child support one parent must pay to another. In cases where a parent’s financial situation has changed, the number generated by the formula may change too. If one parent is laid off from work or injured on the job, they may be receiving unemployment payments or workers’ compensation that only covers a portion of what they were earning before. Generally speaking, the courts will take this into account if you file for a modification to change a current child support payment.
The formula takes into account two main factors:
- How many minor children are in the home (that are yours), and
- Your monthly income.
Other considerations include:
- How much time the child spends with each parent
- Material changes to your financial situation, including changing jobs or losing a job,
- Whether a minor child has reached the age of 18.
Modifications to Child Custody Arrangements
Custody arrangements can be modified well after a divorce has been finalized. Sometimes, the reason for a post-judgment modification order may be as simple as one parent’s schedule has changed and they can no longer visit their children as they used to.
Even though parents can resolve such complications on their own, it makes sense to have your attorneys file the necessary paperwork so that the order is legally enforceable. If one parent decides to renege on the agreement, the court can only intervene if the other parent can show how they violated an established agreement.
In cases where one parent wants to move the child out of state or even to another city, they must get the permission of the court before making the move. These are among the most difficult modification orders because one parent may be deeply opposed to losing contact to their child. It can alter an existing agreement significantly. For that reason, the court must rule on whether the move is in the best interests of the children.
Speak to a Rochester Hills MI Attorney About Requesting a Post-Judgment Modification Order
Regardless of your reasons for wanting to alter an existing arrangement, a Rochester Hills MI divorce attorney at Sumner & Associates, P.C. can help you prepare and file your petition. In cases where your former spouse is opposed to amending the agreement, we can ensure that your needs are considered when the judge renders a final decision. To learn more, contact us today.