Post-Decree Modifications Attorneys in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Circumstances in most people’s lives transform over time. Employment, health, and marital status can all change, and children are born and grow up. When the court issues a decree related to a divorce or child custody, it is issued based on circumstances at the time. Over time, adhering to that order can become an issue.
Although court orders must be followed, that does not mean they cannot be modified. Only the court can do that, and only if current realities warrant it. You can, however, pursue modifications.
With more than 80 years of combined legal experience, the family law attorneys at Schwartz, Hann, Olsen and Taus, P.C., have seen a lot of changes in the lives of their clients and families. If you are interested in modifying the terms of a court decree in Middlesex, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, Essex, or Bergen counties, or anywhere in the state of New Jersey, we are ready to help.
Types of Post-Decree Modifications
Post-decree modifications are revisions to existing decrees regarding divorce, spousal support, child custody, and child support warranted by significant changes in the lives of those they affect, including ex-spouses and their children.
The modification process allows the opportunity to file a motion for the court to consider or reconsider a number of issues. A party can file a motion to:
Increase or decrease spousal support
Increase or decrease child support
Change the parenting time arrangement
Enforce an existing decree to hold the other party in contempt for failing to adhere to orders, such as payment of child support or parenting time with a child
Emancipate a child who has become independent by joining the military, marrying, or reaching the age of majority
Relocate minor children from their existing residence
Reimburse medical expenses the party paid for a child
Change the venue of future matters taken up by the court
Reconsider a family court order within 20 days of issuance, including divorce decrees, non-dissolution orders involving minor children, and domestic violence orders
Factors for Child Custody
& Support Modifications
It takes a “material change in circumstances” to justify a modification of existing child custody or child support orders. To meet that legal standard, the changes must be substantial, permanent, and unforeseen at the time the original orders were issued. Examples of such changes include a parent’s job loss or change in health status, or a major change in the child’s needs for financial support due to a medical issue or their educational needs.
As always, the court will consider first and foremost what is in the best interests of the children when reviewing an existing order. It will review such circumstances as each parent’s earning ability, income, assets and liabilities, the child’s education, medical, and other needs, and a parent’s other child support obligations.
In reviewing a parenting agreement, among the items the court will consider is the wishes of a child who is now mature enough to express their own wishes regarding which parent they live with.
Factors for Spousal Support Modifications
Spousal support is ordered based on one spouse’s need for financial support and the other spouse’s ability to provide it. Should the receiving spouse no longer need that support, the paying spouse can ask that it be reduced or terminated. Should a paying spouse’s financial circumstances (on which the original order was based) change significantly, they can request a modification to that order.
The Modification Process
Only the court can modify an existing decree, and requesting reconsideration is a formal legal process. A motion for modification must be filed with the court with information justifying the revision as well as supporting documents, such as certified copies of the existing order. Notice of filing must be served on the responding party, who will have an opportunity to file a cross-motion refuting the justification the other party used to file the motion for modification.
The burden of proof of “material changes” is a high bar. The evidence must be complete, clear, and compelling in order for the court to change an existing order. Furthermore, issues involved in family law are complex. People wishing to modify an order or to keep an existing one from being modified should work with an experienced family law attorney.
Post-Decree Modification Attorneys Serving Middlesex County, New Jersey
Especially with issues involving children, the court is concerned with their best interests, not yours. You need the seasoned experience of Schwartz, Hann, Olsen and Taus, P.C., to represent your best interests in court. Decrees can be modified, but the process is demanding. If you think changes in circumstances are significant enough to warrant one, talk to us first. We are proud to offer help to clients in Middlesex County and throughout the New Jersey counties of Somerset, Morris, Passaic, Essex, and Bergen.