In some divorce cases, a couple may change their minds or disagree about certain issues even after the divorce is final. For example, if a person believes his or her ex-spouse violated the divorce decree, he or she can file a “post-decree motion” to enforce the terms of the divorce decree. Similarly, a change in one or both of the former spouses’ circumstances, such as a job loss or relocation, may require amendment or modification of the divorce decree, especially if a child is involved. These modifications or post-decree matters must be approved by a judge and should be fair to each spouse and in the best interests of the child.
Parental Responsibilities and Child Support
The majority of post-decree matters deal with disputes over child-related issues. Parental responsibilities (formerly called child custody) and parenting time (formerly known as visitation) are determined during the initial divorce proceedings. However, changes may be necessary in some cases, such as when one parent would like to have more parenting time with his or her child.
In any case that involves children under the age of 18, the court in which the original divorce decree was issued maintains its authority to decide future child-related matters. The parent requesting a change in the allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time must prove to a court all of the following:
- A significant change in circumstances since the original order was issued;
- The requested change is in the best interests of the child; and,
- The benefit as a result of the change will exceed any potential harm.
After a divorce is finalized, a parent may fail to make some or any of the court-ordered child support payments. Similarly, according to the Illinois Child Support Services agency, an order for child support is eligible for modification every three years. Through a post-decree motion, a former spouse may request either enforcement of the original agreement or a change to the child support order, such as an increase or decrease in the amount of payments.
Alimony or Spousal Support
Alimony is defined as a legal obligation for a person to provide financial support to his or her ex-spouse after a divorce, and it may also be referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance. After a divorce is finalized, an ex-spouse may fail to pay alimony, even if it is court-ordered. The ex-spouses can always try to create a new payment schedule on their own, but that does not always work. The wronged spouse may have to file a motion, called a contempt action, requesting that the court enforce the original order.
The amount and/or period of time that alimony is awarded to one spouse may need to change if, for example, the other spouse’s income has drastically changed for any reason, such as the paying spouse unexpectedly losing his or her job. This spouse may make a concerted effort to find a new job, but while he or she remains unemployed and cannot make the alimony support payments, a judge may decrease or temporarily suspend the alimony payments.
Other scenarios in which post-decree enforcement may be necessary include:
- A spouse has failed to file or sign paperwork for division of a pension, 401(k), or IRA account; or,
- A spouse has neglected to pay college expenses for children if he or she was obligated to do so as part of the divorce agreement.
Contact a Hillside, IL Post-Decree Matters Lawyer
Even after your divorce is final, there may be circumstances that warrant changes to the original divorce agreement. These modifications can include adjustments to child support or spousal support payments. A knowledgeable Oak Park post-divorce modification attorney can help you determine if any aspects of your divorce decree might be able to be changed, and work with you to meet the requirements for modifying existing court orders. To schedule a free consultation with an attorney who has handled these matters for over 31 years, call our office today at 708-449-7400.