Modifying a final court decision is common in family law. Changes regarding income, illness, and the residence of either party can make adhering to the judgment unfair or even impossible. A post-judgment modification is when a judge alters a court decision after a final judgment is made. Often in divorce cases, the custody, child support payments, and the marital status of either party can change. If some event impacts at least one of the parties, the judgment may need to be modified.
Life Events, Injury and Illness
A change in circumstances for either party such as employment status or health could require the court to review the family law case. If the party paying the support loses their job rendering them unable to fulfill their duty, they must inform the judge. If the payer is injured and cannot work for a short amount of time, a judge may temporarily reduce or stop the payments. If the illness is permanent and debilitating, they may be incapable of providing support. However, if the child has an illness, the amount of support may increase. Further, if the supported parent gets a job, the payment amounts could be reduced or stopped.
Relocation to Another State
The custodial parent may want to move to another state, which would call for the court to reevaluate the decision. The reason for the move may be for a job, to live near relatives or for a cheaper cost of living. While such a move would clearly impact visitation with the child by the noncustodial parent, the move is permitted unless the noncustodial party can demonstrate that the relocation is not in the child’s best interest.
Emancipated or Alimony Recipient
A child is emancipated when he or she reaches the legal adult age and no longer needs to be supported financially. The child may be granted emancipation earlier than legal adult age if they can demonstrate financial independence and no mental illness. However, support may still be required if a child has a condition rendering them physically, mentally or even financially dependent. If a spouse who is receiving support remarries, she may not need as much support.
Family law is not the only field of practice to utilize post-judgment modifications. The details of which parent gets custody, the amount of support being paid and either party’s fluctuating income often mean that settlements will probably be modified more often than other cases.