Although child custody and support orders are carefully drafted to be in the best interests of the child, circumstances can change, and an order may need to be modified. Similarly, a party’s need for spousal maintenance or a party’s ability to pay maintenance may change over time. Thus, in some instances, a family law order may need to be modified. In other cases, an order may be appropriate, but legal intervention may be needed to enforce it. If you need guidance regarding the post-decree modification or enforcement of a family law order, it is essential to retain a skilled Mesa family law lawyer as soon as possible to assist you with your legal needs. At Stromfors Law Office, we can set forth persuasive evidence in support of your position to help you seek your desired outcome. We have almost two decades of experience in these matters.Post-Decree Modification of a Child Support or Child Custody Order
In any divorce case involving children, in addition to dissolving the parties' marriage, the court will issue an order defining each parent’s rights and obligations. While all family law orders pertaining to children are drafted to be in the best interests of the child, the parties’ needs and resources may change over time, and it may be necessary to modify an existing order.
Under Arizona law, the parties are not permitted to seek a modification of an existing legal decision-making or parenting time order within one year of the issuance of a previous order, unless it is necessary to protect the child. If a year has passed since the prior order was entered, and the parties agree that a modification of an order defining child support, legal decision-making, or parenting time is appropriate, they can file a stipulation with the court outlining the proposed changes. If the court finds the modifications to be in the best interests of the child, it may issue an order modifying the previous order.
If the parties do not agree that a modification is necessary, one party can petition the court for a modification with the assistance of an attorney. The party seeking a modification typically must prove that there has been a substantial and material change in circumstances that necessitates a modification. Significant changes may include a change in either party’s health or the health of the child, a fluctuation in either party’s income, or a change in the availability of health insurance coverage.Post-Decree Modification of a Spousal Maintenance Order
In cases in which the parties entered into an agreement or the court issued an order stating that spousal maintenance cannot be modified, neither party can obtain a modification. If there is no prohibition regarding a modification, either party can petition the court to change an existing order on the basis of a substantial and material change in circumstances.Post-Decree Enforcement
If a person is not complying with a parenting time order, a petition can be filed to enforce the order. The court will then hold a hearing or conference to determine whether a violation has occurred and identify the cause of any violation. If the court finds that there is no good cause for a failure to comply with the order, it can find a parent in contempt and may order civil penalties. Additionally, the court may order parenting education or family counseling sessions, and it may adjust visitation time to make up for any time that was missed due to a violation.
Similarly, if a party is owed child support or maintenance under a court order issued in a divorce or support proceeding, he or she can file a petition seeking enforcement of the order. The petition must include the applicable support or maintenance order and an affidavit regarding the payments in default. The court can enforce the order by garnishing the violator’s wages, issuing a lien, or granting any other relief that the court deems appropriate.Consult a Trusted Mesa Attorney Regarding a Modification or Enforcement Action
The needs and resources of the parties involved in support, maintenance, and custody orders can change, and it may become necessary to seek a modification or enforcement of an order. The seasoned family law lawyers at Stromfors Law Office can provide you with assertive representation to help you pursue a fair and equitable result. We regularly assist people in family law matters in cities throughout Maricopa County. You can reach us through our online form or at (480) 237-1276 to schedule a meeting to discuss your legal needs.