A post-decree motion is filed after a divorce when the parties to the divorce disagree about some aspect of the divorce agreement. These motions often arise when one party has violated some part of the divorce agreement and the other party wants to head back to court to rectify the situation.
If you’ve gone through a divorce and are still dealing with ongoing issues between you and your ex, read on to learn the most important information about post-decree motions.
#1: Post-decree motions can cover a variety of issues.
There are many situations that may arise during your divorce, and not all of them will be favorably resolved. You can pursue post-decree modification in an attempt to change the outcome of these issues. Three of the most common aspects of divorce that are modified through post decree motions are child support, child custody, and spousal support.
If you or your ex has seen a substantial change in income, it may be appropriate to seek a post decree-motion for your current child support ruling. For example, a parent who has secondary custody of their child will likely pay monthly child support to their co-parent. If the paying parent loses their job or is demoted, though, their ability to pay the agreed upon amount of child support will likely change. If that parent filed a post-decree motion concerning child support, the court will consider the income of both parents and what percentage of the paying parent’s income is currently going towards their child support payment. Based on that information, the court may redetermine a monthly payment amount to ensure it remains proportional to the paying parent’s total income.
Child custody post-decree motions are difficult to summarize because there are numerous reasons why one parent or both may want the agreement modified. To keep things general, this may be the case if one parent does not think it’s in the child’s best interest to be in the custody of the other parent. He or she may have safety concerns or simply believe the child could be better cared for in his or her custody than in the co-parent’s. Custody may also be modified after the fact when one party doesn’t stick to the initial agreement. Another common situation is that a child is old enough to express a preference for custody and would like the custody arrangement changed so he or she can live with the preferred parent.
Spousal maintenance is similar to child support in that it can modified or terminated if there has been a significant change in the financial circumstances of one or both parties. If the spouse receiving maintenance anticipated difficulties reentering the workforce, for example, but has found a job only a few months after the divorce is finalized, the court may reevaluate whether spousal maintenance is still necessary.
#2: The court uses its own criteria to determine if a motion is reasonable.
It ultimately makes no difference to the court whether or not you feel a post-decree motion is reasonable since it uses its own criteria to make that decision. This is why it’s vital to work with an attorney who can advise you on the likely outcome of your motion and will help you prepare the information you’ll need to illustrate why a modification is or isn’t necessary.
Prior to your trial, your attorney may be able to conduct discovery, which is essentially just an investigation into and collection of evidence that may be relevant to your case. Discovery can include:
- Oral depositions
- Written interrogatories
- Requests for written admissions
- Requests for inspection/production of documents
Discovery may or may not apply to your case, and it can be complicated to navigate discovery because it requires extensive knowledge of local statutes and civil procedure. That’s why it’s advisable to choose your family law attorney very carefully when pursuing or defending against a post-decree motion. Make sure he or she has experience with similar cases and an understanding of the local laws in your jurisdiction.
#3 You can decrease the need for Post-Decree Modification through careful planning.
We can’t predict the future, so there’s only so much you can do during your divorce to anticipate whether you or your ex will file a post-decree motion in the future. However, a pre-divorce planning lawyer in Edina can help you ensure your finances and lifestyle is transparent in preparation for your divorce. This will lessen the probability that something will come up after the divorce that forces you to file or defend against a post-decree motion.