Post-Judgment Modifications & Enforcement
Following a family law case in the State of Maine, whether the case involves divorce, child support or custody, visitation rights, or other issues, the court provides a judgment and dictates a variety of orders that the involved parties must follow. Your circumstances may change or your former spouse may be behind on child support payments or spousal support, or he/she may not be following the court orders.
Whether your issue involves modification or enforcement of divorce judgments or parental rights and responsibilities, Portland, Maine family law attorney Susan M. Schultz will fight for your interests. We understand that circumstances change and will work with you by helping you file and litigate a post-judgment motion in court. For a consultation regarding your post-judgment motion, call attorney Susan M. Schultz today at (207) 210-6555.
Financial circumstances and living arrangements may change in the months or years after a divorce, rendering a previous order outdated and no longer in the best interest of one or both parties or the parties’ children. In Maine, many individuals seek post-judgment modification for the following reasons:
- Modifying child support
- Modifying the child’s residence or parent contact
- Modifying spousal support
- Moving away or relocating
Before filing a post-judgment motion, however, it is important to first make a good-faith attempt to work out the problem with the other party. If both parties agree on the change, you should still file a post-judgment motion to make the agreed-upon modifications legally binding. If both parties do not agree to the change, the matter will need to be addressed in family court.
There are three types of post-judgment motions that may apply directly to your situation, including:
- Motions to modify a court order
- Motions to enforce a court order
- Motions for contempt
By filing a motion to modify a court order, you are essentially asking the court to change its previous judgment; therefore, one of the most important things you need to show the court is a “substantial change in circumstances.” Some examples of a substantial change could include:
- A change in financial circumstances that could affect child support by 15% or more
- A change in a parent’s schedule or where a parent lives, affecting visitation rights
- A change in one parent’s ability to be involved in the child’s life, affecting primary residence or parental rights
- A change in financial circumstances that could affect spousal support
Also, it is important to note that if three years have passed since the court’s initial child support order, you may ask the court to update child support without having to show a “substantial” change in financial circumstances.
If the other party is not fulfilling his/her court-ordered obligations regarding child support, visitation, spousal support, or any other court orders, you may file either a motion to enforce a family law judgment or a motion for contempt. A motion to enforce is usually the better option for several reasons, some of which include:
- The procedures are more informal than a court hearing and the enforcement orders may be completed via mediation.
- If the other party contests your motion to enforce or motion for contempt, you will have the “burden of proof.” In a motion to enforce case, your burden of proof is much easier to meet than in a motion for contempt. To succeed with a motion to enforce, you must demonstrate only that the other party has not complied with the court order. To succeed with a motion for contempt, you must demonstrate by “clear and convincing evidence” that the other party had the ability to comply with the court order, but willfully refused to do so.
If the other party is not adhering to the post-judgment enforcement order, or drastic circumstances are involved (the other party is acting hostile with regard to the court orders), then you may need to file a motion for contempt. In general, a motion for contempt involves several elements, including:
- The acting judge must approve the motion for contempt before you are able to serve the papers on the other party.
- Only a judge, as opposed to a magistrate, can hear the case.
- Mediation might not be available.
- The court serves the other party a subpoena for a formal court hearing.
- The judge may order more serious sanctions, which may include incarceration unless or until the contempt is cured.
Call Portland Family Law Attorney Susan M. Schultz Today for Your Post-Judgment Needs.
Whether post-judgment issues can be resolved by agreement or require litigation, it is always essential to have an experienced family law attorney at your side. Portland lawyer Susan M. Schultz will diligently and zealously represent your interests in court or at the mediation table. For a confidential consultation with Susan M. Schultz, call our Portland law office today at (207) 210-6555.