Post-Decree Issues

Providing Knowledgeable Counsel for Post-Decree Issues image

There are a number of situations that arise after a family court issue is decided that a court might be asked to address. Those situations are called post-decree issues and fall into three main categories: implementation, enforcement and modification.

If neither attorney prepared the qualified domestic relations (QDR) order needed for a party to receive his or her share of a 401(k) — if a party hasn't received the quit claim deed to the house he or she was awarded — these are implementation problems. The order said what was to occur, but it hasn't occurred yet.

Most implementation problems can be corrected by consulting with an attorney who will do the tasks that are needed.

If one side is not doing what he or she was ordered to do — isn't paying child support, won't let the other side have parenting time, refuses to sign over title to stock awarded to the other side — these are enforcement problems that go beyond implementation, because there is opposition to doing what the court ordered be done.

Many enforcement problems require court motions. Failure to pay child support, spousal maintenance and egregious failure to follow parenting time orders might include asking the court to find the noncomplying party in contempt and to order incarceration as incentive for the noncomplying party to change his or her behavior.

The final category of post-decree issue involves changes occurring over time on issues for which modification is permitted by statute. Typically, child support, child custody, parenting time and spousal maintenance are modifiable issues. All of these modification issues require a court order for a legally binding resolution, whether the issues are resolved by agreement or court decision.

I am attorney Deborah N. Dewalt, a Dakota County family lawyer, and I assist and counsel individuals and families in the full range of post-decree matters, including answering questions you might have about what your decree means.

Requirements to Modify Custody and Child Support Orders

In general, the Minnesota courts will only make changes to child custody orders if there has been a substantial change in the child's circumstances and the requested change is necessary to serve the child's best interests. One compelling reason for a modification is if a child is being neglected or physically or emotionally abused by one parent.

The moving party must also meet threshold requirements to obtain modifications to child support or spousal maintenance orders. The court can grant modification only if there has been a substantial change in circumstances that makes the existing support or maintenance obligation unreasonable and unfair. Sometimes these requirements can be met in the following circumstances:

  • Either parent loses his or her job
  • A child requires special medical care
  • A parent remarries or gains a higher paying job
  • Either party becomes disabled or retires
  • The cost of living increases significantly

If you believe you need a modification to a custody, support or maintenance order, I can help you understand the court's statutory requirements, review your options and choose the best course of action to pursue your goals.

Talk to a Lawyer With In-Depth Experience

To learn more about divorce modifications in Dakota County or other post-decree matters, do not hesitate to call my Burnsville office and schedule a free initial consultation with me, Deborah N. Dewalt, Attorney at Law. Call my law firm locally at 952-641-7455 or toll free at 866-919-7417, or fill out the online contact form.