After a divorce (or legal separation), where the court has signed off on Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, it can be difficult to communicate with your former spouse regarding child rearing, alimony, and other financial matters. Sometimes it can be so difficult that you need a mediator or the court’s assistance to resolve the matter. Post-decree matters, usually heard before the court having jurisdiction over the initial Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, include resolving issues pertaining to the enforcement of the Marriage Settlement Agreement or Judgment, modification of the Judgment, Wage Garnishment Orders, Child Support Orders and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.
A judge might grant modification in the event of “changed circumstances.” Consider child support, for example, where a parent providing child support has been laid off and seeks payment reductions. The judge may grant modification if he is convinced that the parent was laid off and did not quit his/her job to avoid the high costs of child support payments or left the job to go after his/her “true calling.” Sometimes, but not always, a change in custody or parenting schedule might also be considered grounds for modification of support payments. Call an experienced divorce attorney for more information on when a judge might grant modification to an existing decree.
If you are a parent seeking modification, then it is best to keep all records of child support payments, parenting schedules and any other proof that will likely convince a judge to yield to your request for modification. For example, if you made an agreement, outside of court, with your former spouse that instead of paying $2,000.00 for child support each month you would pay $1,500.00, then it is in your best interest to record that conversation or get it down in writing and have it signed by your former spouse. Note that a court will primarily look only to the existing decree when making changes to child support payments, but such evidence definitely does not militate against a court reducing the payments.