How Dads Can Modify a Divorce Decree

Fathers and post-divorce enforcement of child custody and visitation

Divorce Order Enforcement for Fathers

The divorce process can be long and difficult, and once it's over, you're probably ready to move on with your life. However, there are a variety of reasons why you may need to go back to court to address additional legal issues related to your children, your finances, or other matters. In some cases, you may need to make modifications to your divorce decree, while in others, you may need to ask the court to enforce the terms of your divorce.

Post-Divorce Modifications

While your divorce decree or judgment is meant to be permanent, the law recognizes that people's lives can change, and a divorce order may need to be updated. Potential changes could include:

Typically, if you wish to modify your divorce decree, you must show that there has been a significant change in circumstances for one or both parties, or for your children. For instance, if you have lost your job, or if your ex has experienced a significant increase in the income she earns, you may need to make changes to your child support obligations. Or, if your children's needs change, you may need to determine how to divide the resulting expenses, such as the costs of ongoing physical therapy related to a disability.

There are a variety of reasons why you may need to make adjustments to the way you and your ex share custody of your kids. Either of you may wish to spend more time with the kids, and you may ask that your parenting time schedule be updated to reflect these desires. On the other hand, changes to your work hours may mean that you won't be able to follow the current schedule, so you may need to make changes to ensure that you can spend the time with your children they deserve. You may also need to update your child custody arrangements because either you or your ex plans to relocate to a new home a certain distance away from your current residence.

Divorce Order Enforcement

When your divorce is finalized, the divorce decree or judgment is a court order that both you and your ex are required to follow by law. If your ex has not met her court-ordered obligations, you may need to take legal action to enforce the terms of your divorce. Some situations in which enforcement may be necessary include:

  • Your ex has refused to turn over marital property that was allocated to you in the divorce.
  • Your ex has not paid child support or spousal support on time or in full.
  • Your ex has interfered with your parenting time by refusing to relinquish your kids into your care at the required time.

If you can demonstrate that your ex has violated the terms of your divorce order, you may ask that she be held in contempt of court. This could result in a variety of penalties, including fines, loss of a driver's license or professional license, or even jail time. If your ex has attempted to harm your relationship with your kids, including through parental alienation, you may be able to have your child custody agreement modified to place restrictions on her time with your kids.

If you're looking to modify or enforce your divorce decree, you'll want to work with an experienced lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand your rights while providing you with representation in the courtroom, and they can work with you to reach an outcome to your case that will provide for your ongoing needs and protect your children's best interests.

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