You might think your divorce decree is set in stone. But that’s far from the truth. A lot can change after your divorce is finalized, and in some cases, it’s worth talking with a New Jersey divorce lawyer about a post-divorce enforcement or modification.
If something has changed after your divorce or one side is not complying with the terms of your Agreement, then contact Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC to discuss the situation further and to educate yourself on some options.
Do You Need a Modification, Enforcement, or an Appeal?
There’s a difference between asking a judge to change something about your divorce because your circumstances have changed and asking a higher court to change a decision you disagree with. If you disagree with a decision a judge made in your divorce, talk with a New Jersey divorce lawyer about appealing; there is a specified amount of time that you have to appeal, depending, so speaking with an attorney quickly about whether you can appeal is a time-sensitive issue.
But, if something after your divorce has changed, like your income, visitation, or your marital status, you may be eligible for a modification of that prior Agreement. By the same token, if one party is not adhering to his or her end of that Agreement, you can also file an application to enforce the terms of your prior agreement.
What Can Change After a Divorce?
A lot of things can change after you are divorced! Perhaps your job situation changes (good or bad), your income increases or decreases, you get re-married and/or have another child, you or your ex are living with someone else, you want to move to a different State or Country, etc. When there is a significant change in circumstances, you might be eligible to request from the Court a post-divorce (post-judgment) modification of the terms and provisions of your prior agreement. The same holds true on the opposite side of this issue– if nothing has changed but one party simply refuses to comply with the terms of your Agreement, then you might need to request from the Court an enforcement of those previously negotiated provisions.
Talk with a divorce attorney in New Jersey about:
Altering child custody and parenting time: A judge will consider altering legal and physical child custody based on a significant change in circumstances and what’s in the children’s best interests. In some cases, a parent who has had a small amount of visitation may want to try to request more time with the child now that the situation has changed from before. In other cases, the residential custody might change depending on the new events that have evolved. Or, maybe something happened and now you’re concerned about your children’s health and safety, and need to discuss whether it is appropriate to decrease the other parent’s time with them.
A child’s permanent relocation: When one parent needs to permanently relocate, whether that be to a different state, country, or even a county within your current State, there must be a conversation about this because that parent will need permission to permanently remove the child(ren) and a discussion about how the current custody and visitation arrangement will be affected by the move.
Increasing or decreasing child support: Child support might need to increase or decrease if a parent’s income or financial circumstances have changed. The judge will determine whether there was a material change, whether that change is temporary or permanent, and if so, recalculate child support.
Termination of child support: If a court approves a minor child’s emancipation from you and their other parent, then any child support obligation related to that child ends. The definition of emancipation is governed either by your divorce agreement or in accordance with the applicable New Jersey law. There are many exceptions to emancipation, so it is best to speak with an attorney to truly understand whether you particular situation applies.
Increasing, decreasing, or terminating alimony (spousal support): In some circumstances, it may be appropriate to terminate, suspend, or modify alimony payments. If you want to increase or decrease alimony, you have to prove there’s been an involuntary and ‘permanent’ substantial financial change. On the other hand, if your ex’s financial situation has significantly changed for the better or she got re-married or is cohabitating with someone else, then you may be eligible to terminate or suspend your alimony. These kinds of situations are not straightforward so you will want to speak with an attorney to truly understand your options and the costs involved.
Medical expenses reimbursement: This is one area that we see a lot. If your divorce agreement explains what portion of the unreimbursed medical expenses you and your ex should pay, but one person is not doing that, then you can file an enforcement application with the Court to compel the other side to reimburse— or vice versa. Also, perhaps the arrangement as to who is going to cover your child under the health insurance plan itself is no longer practical or cost effective for one reason or another. We could certainly discuss with your ex (or vice versa) changing this arrangement.
How to Ask for a Modification or Enforcement from the Court
To ask the court to change a part of your divorce order, you’ll have to file a motion, most likely in the same court where you got your divorce. But, this is not always the case. If you and/or your spouse have moved from the State where you originally divorced, then you want to speak with an attorney about what State would be appropriate to file your enforcement application.
A motion is simply a written request to the judge of what you are looking to do, along with your “story” as to why you want the Judge to rule in your favor; the more documentation you have to support your request, the better and you should attach it! There are other required forms that the Court wants submitted with the application, so be sure not to forget those or the Court might kick out your application!
Filing a motion involves several steps. In New Jersey, depending on the County, there are pre-set motion dates; there are also pre-set timelines and page limitations that everyone has to adhere to as to when you have to file your motion (24 days before the court date), when the other side has to respond (15 days before the Court date), and the final Reply (8 days before the Court date). There are also Court rules surrounding the procedure such as service of process and how many copies you have to provide to the other side (and vice versa)
When you file a motion, there is a Court mandated filing fee. Make sure to call the Court or look online as to the correct amount of the filing fee to make sure you have the most updated amount.
You must deliver (otherwise known as “serve”) two (2) copies of motion and proposed form of order to the other side—who must get their copy at least 24 days before the hearing date. If they do not, there is a good chance that the Court will adjourn or postpone the court date to allow both sides enough time to review the Motion and respond. Either side can ask for an adjournment or postponement from the Court itself, but also must call the other side (unless there is a FRO in place) to seek consent first.
Instead of navigating the motion process yourself or trying to respond to a motion you receive from your ex, contact an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer. We know how to file or respond to a motion for a post-divorce modification. The most important thing here is to make sure you (or the other side) is in compliance with the Court rules so that the application does not get kicked out– or, you use that to get the other side’s application kicked out. Also, however, how you present your situation, the facts, and the proofs, is extremely critical to give you the best shot at success or the best shot in defending your ex’s application against you.
Other Forms That May Be Required for a Post-Divorce Enforcement or Modification, Depending
Depending on what you are asking for and why, there are other forms you might have to file along with the motion:
- Notice to Litigants: You must fill out this form and serve it to them with a copy of the motion and proposed order.
- Confidential Litigant Information Sheet: You have to use this form every time you file new documents with the court.
- Certification: You must provide the court with true statements regarding why you believe it should approve your motion. You’ll include copies of the previous orders with this certification.
- Certification of Filing and Service: This form tells the court you served your ex with the paperwork for this motion.
- Case Information Statement: If you’re asking for financial relief, you have to complete this form, too. However, be careful with this one. Sometimes you do not have to give this right away and there may be reasons you don’t want to. Talk to an attorney to see if you fall under one of the exceptions.
- Letter to the Clerk & Filing Fee: You complete and include this form with all of your other documents when you file the motion with the clerk of the court. This is the first page of your packet of forms.
When Will a Judge Modify a Court Order?
Prior to the scheduled Court date, the Judge and his/her staff will review all of the documentation submitted. You and your ex will have an opportunity to highlight your side of the story and the request you are looking for at the Court date verbally. The Judge may ask some follow up questions of you and/or your ex and will certainly ask if the two you attempted to work this out on your own before seeking intervention from the Court. Be prepared to answer that and if you say no, be prepared to tell the Court why no one tried. Most times, the Judge will make a ruling on the Motion papers that same day unless there is some other reason or something else the Judge needs that would necessitate the Judge reserving on the decision until receipt of the additional information.
Schedule a Consult with a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer
If you are already divorced, and you want to change something or need certain terms and provisions Enforced, call (201) 430-7029 or use our online form to talk with a divorce attorney at MR. Men’s Rights Divorce & Family Law of New Jersey by Schultz & Associates, LLC. We have years of experience dealing with post-divorce issues of modification and enforcement, and all the exceptions that come along with that.