Post-divorce disputes, commonly referred to as post-judgment or post-decree matters, include enforcement of divorce Judgments and orders as well as modifications of those judgments. Enforcement actions may become necessary when a party is late paying support, creates problems with visitation, or does not fulfill a duty imposed by the court or agreed to in a Settlement Agreement. Modifications of child support and/or maintenance may become necessary if a party’s income changes or the needs of the other party or the children increase. When a court orders modifiable or reviewable maintenance in a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage, at some point in the future the parties’ circumstances may be reviewed by the court to determine if additional maintenance is warranted. In other circumstances, whether authorized by a judgment or by a statute, termination of maintenance may be appropriate. Divorced parents may also seek court intervention to resolve issues regarding their respective contributions to the college expenses of their children. These types of post-decree financial disputes often require the same level of complex financial analysis and expertise as the pre-decree phase of the case. Dussias Skallas Wittenberg lawyers are well versed in these types of disputes and are effective at achieving the best results for clients in post-divorce litigation.
Other changes in circumstance that are addressed in post-judgment litigation are those situations in which a parent desires to change visitation or custody or to move with a child to another state (also known as “removal”.) These disputes can be as complex as custody disputes during the original divorce case. Post-decree custody modification cases can involve the appointment of a Child’s Representative or Guardian Ad Litem and may even require a psychological evaluation of the family to determine what is in the best interests of the children.
One of the most significant updates in the Act relates to interim post-divorce or “post-decree” attorney’s fees. A petition for temporary attorney’s fees in post-judgment matters may be heard on a non-evidentiary summary basis; this change effectively declares that evidentiary hearings are no longer mandatory. With this change its important to note that although a judge may hear post-decree fee petitions on a summary basis now, the judge should be mindful of the practical implication of doing so. For example, its on thing to make a party pay the attorney’s fees of a former spouse when it is known the payee spouse could afford to eventually return the money to the payor spouse in the event the judge ultimately determines the payor spouse was not obligated in the first place. However, if it is known the payee spouse could not reimburse a payor spouse, the judge should consider the payor spouse’s potential financial loss.