Changing the terms of your divorce after it is finished is called a post-decree modification. You may want to change custody arrangements or increase or decrease spousal support. You may want to increase or decrease monthly child support amounts. Filing a petition for post-decree modification is how you ask the court to change the terms of your divorce.
The court may look at changes in the economy, updated personal finances, and the income of both parties. In general, Arizona law requires you to wait a year before filing your petition. Successfully changing the terms of your divorce depend on many factors.
You will need to give the court updated and accurate information. A family law attorney can help you give the court the information it needs to give you what you want. It is important to be honest and avoid mistakes when giving the court your information.
Starting a Post-Decree Modification
To ask the court to change the terms of your divorce, you must file a petition with the court. It is extremely important to be truthful when filing a new petition as your request will likely be denied if you are not. The court may also order you to pay your former spouse’s legal fees and court costs. Consulting with a family law attorney can help you determine whether a successful modification is realistic before you ask the court.
The court can only change legal decision-making or parenting time if you file the correct petition. If you ask the court to substantially change the amount of time the children spend with your ex, you may also ask to increase or decrease child support amounts. Child support is calculated on a number of factors including how much time children spend with each parent.
Arizona courts follow the income sharing approach to determine child support. This means both spouses incomes are included in a calculation to determine a monthly child support payment. The parent who spends less time with the children is typically ordered to pay the other spouse. If a court finds a large and long-lasting change has occurred, the court may change monthly child support payments.
The court will decide whether a ‘substantial and continuing’ change happened. The court will look at updated financial information and a number of other factors. Either parent can ask the court to change child support payments.
The court may increase or decrease child support as it deems fit. The obligation to pay child support stops when the child turns eighteen unless they have not finished high school. Courts may also make exceptions to child support rules when a child has special needs.
An income withholding order are court orders that require employers to deduct money owed for support directly from paychecks. Income withholding orders can be for child or spousal support. They can also be used to collect money owed in the past. This type of order is designed to ensure support payments are made within a reasonable time.
Spousal maintenance is often one of the largest issues in family law cases. Changing the terms of spousal maintenance can be difficult. Depending on the terms of your original divorce, there may be contract language stating spousal maintenance cannot be changed. If your divorce terms allow the change or modification of spousal maintenance, the court will use the same factors it used to determine spousal maintenance originally.
Petitions to Enforce
Petitions to enforce can be filed with the court any time your ex is not doing something the court ordered them to do. For example, petitions to enforce are used when your ex:
- Fails to make child support payments
- Fails to make spousal maintenance payments
- Fails to comply with the terms of the parenting plan
- Fails to include your input when making decisions for your child
If your ex is not doing what the court ordered them to, filing a petition to enforce is how you get them back in front of your judge.