Before you divorced, you and your former spouse probably spent considerable time and energy trying to reach agreements about alimony, child support, child custody, and visitation. You probably hoped that once you reached an agreement, you would not have to revisit any of these issues.
However, life moves on, things change, and the agreement you had might not be working for you anymore. You might need to change the agreement to better support your children or move on with your life.
If you wish to modify a separation agreement, or if your spouse seeks a modification and you object, a Kernersville post-divorce disputes lawyer can help you. A skilled divorce attorney at Apple Payne Law can explain how the law applies to your situation and advise you as to the best course of action.
When a court incorporates family matters into a divorce decree, such as the orders for child support, child custody, alimony, and property division, those are legally binding. Failing to follow these orders can have serious legal consequences, including contempt, attorney’s fees, future modification of custody, and even jail.
However, sometimes changes in circumstance merit a revision of these orders. Although property division orders are not usually subject to modification, other orders may be if the party requesting the modification can show that a change is warranted in the best interest of the child or due to a substantial change in income, employment.
If parties agree a modification is necessary, a Kernersville attorney at Apple Payne Law will submit a revised order for the court’s approval. If the parties do not agree, the party requesting the modification must make a motion for modification explaining the changed circumstances. Even if the parties agree to revise an order, they must continue to honor the original order until the court approves a modification.
Courts will entertain requests to modify orders regarding alimony, child support, and child custody if the requesting party can prove a significant change in circumstance. Events that merit changing an order could include one party’s remarriage, the birth of another child, a serious health issue, and a substantial change in a child’s needs. A marked increase or decrease in income could warrant a change in the alimony or support orders. If a parent seeks a change in a child support order, the courts favor reconsideration if at least three years have passed since the last order and the new required amount differs by 15 percent from the order in place.
If a modification involves child custody, North Carolina General Statute §50-13.2 requires a court to consider the child’s best interests before approving it. The court puts the interests of the children ahead of the parents’ wishes or needs. If the judge feels the modification does not serve the children, they might reject a modification, even one both parents agree on. Factors courts look at to determine best interests include the children’s:
Courts have significant discretion to permit or reject a request for modification. An experienced post-divorce disputes attorney in Kernersville can present the parents’ position in a way courts find persuasive.
Sometimes a parent wishes to enforce a currently existing order if the other parent is not complying with it. In that case, the parent seeking enforcement might petition the court for an order to show cause.
If the court grants the order, the non-compliant parent must either adhere to the existing order or prove they have a legally acceptable reason for non-compliance. If the non-compliant parent cannot establish a legal excuse, the judge could order them to comply and assess fines, require them to pay the other party’s court costs and attorney’s fees, and even sentence them to jail.
Any parent seeking to enforce an order or who has been served with a petition for a order to show cause should be represented by a local post-divorce disputes attorney. A legal professional at Apple Payne Law can work to protect the parent’s rights and ensure that the court has an accurate understanding of their position.
It is distressing to continue to have disputes about issues you thought were resolved. If you and your former spouse are in conflict about alimony, child custody, or child support, a Kernersville post-divorce disputes lawyer will explain the legal alternatives most likely to meet your goals.
Your current agreements are binding until a judge changes them, even if the other party agrees, so it is crucial to seek legal help if you are dissatisfied with the terms of an order. Call us at Apple Payne Law today discuss your situation with a dedicated legal professional.