The divorce process is often one of the most difficult experiences of a person’s life in several ways, requiring divorcing spouses to ultimately upend their lifestyles and start fresh separately. Divorce proceedings may last for months or even years in very complex cases. When they are finally over, divorced spouses often feel relieved. However, the finalization of a divorce decree does not necessarily mean the issue is entirely put to rest forever. Family law is unique in that it is possible to alter an existing family law decree without an overly complex appeals process.
Post-judgment motions allow those bound by divorce agreements and other family law orders to revisit certain subjects in the future. Unlike other civil claims that cannot be overturned by a complex appeals process, family law matters are more flexible. The court recognizes that a family’s circumstances can easily and unpredictably change in many ways over time.
How to File a Post-Judgment Motion
Filing a post-judgment motion for a divorce order or other family law order is relatively straightforward. The party filing completes the necessary paperwork and submits it to the court along with required supplementary documentation. For example, a divorced parent paying child support might need to file a post-judgment motion for an amendment to the child support arrangement if they lose their job. The post-judgment motion would allow them to modify their obligation until they secure new employment, helping them avoid the penalties for nonpayment of court-ordered child support.
After the court receives a post-judgment motion, a hearing is set for the parties involved to discuss the matter. All parties included in the matter will have the opportunity to support or contest the proposed amendment to the order in question. It’s usually necessary to provide documented evidence of some kind to support any kind of request to modify a family law order.
Most of these initial hearings will bear results as soon as a judge considers the proposal but contested post-judgment modifications may necessitate more extensive legal proceedings.
What Can a Post-Judgment Motion Change?
Parties bound by family law decrees of various kinds can alter those decrees through post-judgment modification. While some aspects of a family law order may be beyond negotiation, there are several reasons why an individual may need to file a post-judgment motion:
- One of the most common reasons for post-judgment motion filings is child support arrangement revision. Parents’ incomes may change, children’s needs may change, and ultimately the child support arrangement devised during the divorce may not work for the family anymore. It’s possible to file a motion to have child support increased, decreased, or placed on a new payment frequency. It is also possible to motion for child support termination if a child is legally emancipated.
- It is also possible to contest a child custody agreement through a post-judgment motion. For example, suppose you and your ex were awarded joint physical custody of your children in your divorce and you have evidence that your ex is not taking proper care of them at their house. In that case, you can file a motion to secure expanded custody.
- Divorced individuals required to pay alimony or spousal support may need to file post-judgment motions if they can no longer meet their payment obligations or if they have evidence showing the recipient of their support completed a terminating action that would disqualify them from receiving future payments.
- If a party beholden to a family law order has violated the terms of the order, the result can be difficult. The other party might file a post-judgment motion to have the terms of their order altered to reflect this bad behavior. It’s common for those who violate family law orders to face contempt of court. Severe violations can lead to a loss of custody and/or visitation rights, among other penalties.
Ultimately, anyone beholden to a family law order who believes their circumstances have changed in such a way as to warrant a modification to the order in question, a post-judgment motion is the ideal method for making this change happen legally.
Elements of a Successful Post-Judgment Motion
There are three main elements a post-judgment motion petitioner must establish to succeed with such a legal action. First, the party filing the motion must prove that a significant change has occurred. Second, the petitioner must prove that the change was neither known nor discussed during the finalization of the order in question. Finally, the petitioner must prove that the change alters the inherent structure of the order in question and is permanent in nature.
Working with a Wichita, KS divorce lawyer is one of the best ways to navigate the process of filing a post-judgment motion. In almost every case, the petitioner will need to supply some type of material evidence to accompany their motion. This evidence must establish the three components of a post-judgment motion for the motion to succeed. An experienced attorney can help their client gather all the materials they will need to file a post-judgment motion, prepare them for the proceedings to follow, and ultimately help them secure a favorable outcome to their motion.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
It’s vital to have reliable legal counsel whenever you are navigating any type of legal matter, especially one as impactful and personal as a family law order. The post-judgment motion system is unique to family law, providing those bound by family law orders with the legal means to change those orders as their circumstances, lifestyles, and needs change. While some post-judgment motions may seem perfectly reasonable and straightforward at first, there is no guarantee that a post-judgment motion will pass easily without dispute.
Hiring an attorney to assist with your post-judgment motion is one of the best ways to increase the chances of success with your motion. The sooner you meet with an experienced Wichita, KS divorce attorney about your recent change, the closer you will be to securing the family law order modifications you need to see from your post-judgment motion. Your legal advocate can also prepare you for the proceedings you are sure to face and help you approach the post-judgment motion process with greater confidence.