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Post Decree Modification and Enforcement of Court Orders

 

One of the dirty little secrets in family law is that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, some cases are truly never over until the real estate sells, the retirement accounts are divided, the stock options vest, or the last support payment is made. From time-to-time Decrees, Orders, Separation Agreements and Shared Parenting Plans may need to be modified or enforced. When you need a skilled and experienced family law lawyer for post-decree modification or enforcement of a family law court order, contact Christopher M. Alexander, Esq. at (513) 228 – 1100 or chris@alexander-legal.com.

Modification of Parenting Agreements

Parenting preferences and decisions made for minor children at the time of a divorce or dissolution often change as the children age. In many instances neither parent is to blame for any wrongdoing. Instead, common life changes such as job transfers, relocation of a parent, remarriage and even changes in the lives of the children themselves require updates to an otherwise effective Shared Parenting Plan.

Parents often work together informally (out of court) and make changes to children’s parenting schedule, supervision requirements and extracurricular activities. While informal agreements are admirable and may serve the children’s best interest, remember that any change not approved by the court is unenforceable.

A Marital Debt Was Never Paid

In many divorces and dissolutions, one spouse will require a period of time after the Decree is finalized to refinance a mortgage on real estate, pay off a vehicle loan or satisfy a marital debt. What happens if the obligation is not timely paid?

In these instances either the spouse obligated to make the payment will return to court and request additional time to satisfy the obligation, or the spouse not obligated to pay will request the Court make a finding of contempt for failing to comply with the court order. Regardless of who raises the issue, open lines of communication between ex-spouses and their attorneys is often the most efficient and cost-effective way to resolve post-decree property disputes.

Can I Review Child Support

​Child support orders are reviewable under certain circumstances. In most instances, a change in court ordered parenting time or a substantial increase or decrease in a parent’s income will lead to a review and recalculation of each parent’s child support obligation.

Can I Review Spousal Support

Spousal support is modifiable only if the language in the Decree/Order permits it to be reviewed. In most instances where spousal support is modifiable, a substantial increase or decrease in income can lead to a review and recalculation of spousal support.

In some cases, additional or tiered spousal support may be ordered. One spouse may be required to pay a percentage of bonuses and/or commissions to the other spouse as additional or tiered spousal support. Occasionally, the spouse obligated to pay additional or tiered spousal support will deliberately fail to disclose their bonuses and/or commissions with the intention of not making the required additional or tiered support payment. When this occurs, the spouse who should have received the additional spousal support payment is left with only one option, return to court to ensure thorough disclosure of information and a proper accounting of full spousal support payments.

​Will I Be Awarded Attorney Fees for Post Decree Modification or Enforcement

​Attorney fees and litigation expenses may be awarded in connection with any post-decree motion or proceeding if the court finds doing so to be equitable. In making its determination, the court will consider the parties' incomes, any frivolous conduct that led to the matter being filed and other relevant factors deemed appropriate.

As a practical point, you should never expect to receive an award of attorney’s fees unless the court makes a finding that the opposing party acted frivolously during the pendency of the matter. This typically requires a showing that the opposing party’s conduct served merely to harass or maliciously injure you or caused unnecessary delay and a needless increase in the cost of litigation.

Christopher M. Alexander has aggressively represented clients through divorce, dissolution, and post-decree matters for more than 25 years. When you need a skilled and experienced family law lawyer for post-decree modification or enforcement of a family law court order, contact Christopher M. Alexander, Esq. at (513) 228 – 1100 or chris@alexander-legal.com.

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