Post-Divorce, Support & Placement
Placement Changes It is common to have to revisit your placement or support arrangement after your final orders in a divorce or paternity action. Generally you must wait two years from the final orders that were made for any changes in placement. In some circumstances, a request can be made sooner, including by agreement of the parties.
Child Support or Maintenance Changes Child support can be modified (changed) every year based upon a change of either parties’ income. Maintenance may or may not be allowed to be changed depending on the wording in your final agreement. If you have a child support or maintenance obligation, you are required to exchange proof of your annual income each year with the other parent. If you have shared equal placement and do not currently pay child support, you still have a support ‘obligation’ and do need to do the annual exchange with the other parent. If either parent fails to do this, especially upon request by the other parent, financial consequences may happen including the court awarding attorney fees, or a financial penalty similar to the support the other party did not receive
Stipulation or Agreement
If both parties agree to the change, there is a form that can be filled out for the new changes to support, placement or other items such as health care coverage, income tax deductions, support arrears, etc. It is a court required form that must be filled out and signed by both parties and submitted to the court for signature and processing.
Motion to Request a Change
If there is no agreement, then a motion must be filed with the court to request the change. Even if you do not wish to hire an attorney for the entire court process, it is well worth paying for an hour or so of time to learn about the process and whether you should or should not file a motion at this time. In some instances, it is not a good idea. For example, if you want to reduce your child support because one child graduated and you should only be paying support for one child now but your income has gone up significantly from the time of the last order. In that case, even though the required percentage calculation is lower, it could result in a higher amount of support. Hence, leave well enough alone. And the reverse could be true for a party receiving support who wants to file a motion for an increase of support only to find out that it will actually result in a decrease.
Placement motions are never easy to complete all on your own and an attorney is usually recommended. Mediation is usually required by the courts even if you completed mediation during your divorce or paternity action. You must complete it again for this new post-judgment issue. If that does not resolve the case, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem and both parties generally pay for that person (another attorney) on the case. Some counties also have a social worker assess the case and the parties pay a fee for that as well.
Please call for an appointment to learn more about making changes to your current placement or support orders. Some changes can be made relatively easy. Others may require more time and investment that you may wish to avoid.