Post-Divorce Matters


In an original divorce proceeding, a final decree ("judgment") is entered either after a trial or an agreement.

The decree has many provisions, some of which can be modified, others which cannot be changed. Child support and child custody can always be changed. Alimony can be modified if the decree does not foreclose modification. Property settlements/asset divisions generally cannot be modified absent a showing of fraud.

Child support can be modified upon (1) a showing of a substantial change in circumstances of either parent or (2) if the child support substantially deviates from the formulaic Child Support Guidelines. The first allows the court to modify a support order when the financial circumstances of the parents have changed, regardless of their prior contemplation of such changes. The second allows the court to modify child support orders that once were deemed appropriate, but no longer equitable in light of changed social or economic circumstances.

Child custody or a parenting plan can be changed if it is in the best interests of a child. If the parties are in agreement about any changes, the process is simple. If, however, they are not in agreement, there are many ways to resolve the issues, ranging from mediation and collaborative solutions to a full-blown custody battle.

If the judgment allows, alimony either can be nonmodifiable or modifiable upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances of either former spouse.

If one party violates a court order, a motion for contempt may be used as a remedy.

Ben Callaghan