Even though the dissolution of marriage is designed to end the relationship between both spouses, in many incidences there are difficulties that arise once the final judgment is rendered. Post-divorce disputes in Rhode Island Family Court will often arise concerning child custody, spousal support, child support and visitation. In these cases, one or both ex-spouses will need to modify or enforce an existing order or defend a case to enforce or modify.
Post Final Judgment Motions in Providence Family Court
In many situations, the terms set forth in the divorce decree might not reflect the reality of how things are when circumstances change. Many post-divorce disputes involve:
- Job loss
- Significant change in income
- A change in the child’s health care and educational needs
- Relocating for employment
- Mental disability, physical challenges or serious illnesses
- motions to modify child support
- Enforcement of the final judgment of divorce in RI
- Motions to modify child custody
Modifying or Enforcing Spousal Maintenance or Child Support in Family Court
In some cases, modifying child support after a divorce is an appropriate solution for a change in circumstances. If one ex-spouse has a significant change in their life, like a serious illness or job loss, there may be a need to increase the financial amounts involved in child support or decrease how much is paid. These matters must be handled quickly because refunds of child support payments are not available.
In many situations, the Providence Family Court will determine that a modification to child support is applicable because of changing situations. In some cases, both ex-spouses would rather make an agreement outside of Family Court. However, it serves the best interest of everyone involved to consult with a reputable East providence child support attorney to understand the potential liabilities and rights being negotiated in the terms of the agreement.
Enforcing Child Support in Rhode Island after Divorce
The evolution of technology has made it more challenging on “deadbeat dads” to beat the system and neglect to make child support payments. This is because the Internet, computers and electronic technology makes it easier to track estranged parents and force them to make their child support payments current.
In fact, failing to pay “legally agreed” or “court ordered” child support can create serious problems more than just being in arrears. A “deadbeat parent” can face a negative credit history, a loss of driving privileges and their freedom. No parent should ignore a served petition for child support because the consequences could be life altering. Alternatively, parents that are owed child support from the other parent can petition the Family Court to take enforceable action.
Modifying or Enforcing Spousal Maintenance in RI
Modifying an agreement or order of spousal maintenance (alimony; spousal support) is often at the discretion of the court system. Because of that, it is best to hire the skills of a reputable RI divorce attorney who can serve as a legal advocate to petition the court for a modification. Your Rhode Island family law lawyer can do your bidding because they understand how to represent your needs to the judge and describe why the significant changes in your life necessitate a legal modification.
Visitation or Custody Changes
In many situations, litigation is necessary post-judgment when there is a desire to change custody or visitation rights or when the child needs to move with the other parent to another state. Often times, these types of post-divorce disputes are extremely complex and a post-decree custody modification requires extensive consideration. If your circumstances have changed even slightly and you have concerns of your existing court orders that relate to support arrangements, custody or the divorce, it is essential to speak with a RI child custody attorney. This is because any ill advised modification and enforcement issue can affect your life for years. Any attempt to resolve a post-divorce dispute on your own can lead to frustration and regret.
A family law and divorce attorney can provide various legal options on how to deal directly with any change in circumstances involving child custody, visitation rights, spousal maintenance and child support concerns. Your attorney can represent you in all post-divorce proceedings to ensure that your rights and the rights of your child are protected.
Post Divorce Do’s and Don’ts
(For your convenience, I have prepared this list of “Post Divorce Do’s and Don’ts”. Some may be applicable to your case and many will not be applicable. Please take a few minutes to read this. This information applies to Rhode Island law only. If you have any questions, please call Attorney David Slepkow at (401) 437-1100.)
Post Divorce DO LIST
- Keep accurate records of child support, alimony, or other property settlement payment(s). In the event that there is a dispute as to whether or not you have made payments, accurate records are important for proof of payment.
- If you have a property settlement agreement in your case, any changes to the property settlement agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Call me before making changes to the property settlement agreement.
- In the event that you do not have a property settlement agreement and there is only a final judgment in your case, changes can only be made by application to the RI Family Court for a modification of the final judgment based a substantial change of circumstances. Call if it is necessary to make any modification to the final judgment.
- If visitation of your children is in dispute, keep accurate records of your visitations, documenting dates, times, activities and/or confrontations with your ex-spouse.
- Do not pay child support directly to your ex-spouse if your ex-spouse is on welfare! You must make the payment to the State of Rhode Island. In the event that your ex-spouse is on welfare and you make payments directly to her/him, then these payments will be considered a gift. The State of Rhode Island will still pursue you for the child support payments, despite the fact that your made the payments to your ex-spouse. This may mean that you will have to make a double payment.
- Do not modify the property settlement agreement by an oral agreement. ALL changes to a property settlement agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties.
- Do not make payments of alimony or child support post divorce without a signed receipt from your ex-spouse.
- If you make payments directly to your child or buy anything for your child, these payments will be considered gifts to your child and will not be a credit toward child support. Therefore, if you want these types of payments to be considered child support, they must be given directly to your ex-spouse as child support.
- If there is a restraining order in your case, do not contact your ex-spouse without the restraining order being dismissed. Even if your ex-spouse initiates the communication or invites you over, you could still be arrested for violating the restraining order. Any type of communication is a violation of the restraining order including e-mails, letters, faxes or voice mail messages. Do not rely on your ex-spouse’s insistence that the restraining order has been dismissed. You need to verify with the Clerk of the Family Court that the restraining order has been dismissed.
Important Information-post divorce
- Child Support– post divorce
- Child support does not automatically terminate when your child reaches eighteen (18) years of age. Child support will automatically accrue until your child turns nineteen (19) years of age unless, a Motion to Terminate Child Support is filed.
- If you are the parent with physical placement of your child/children and your income significantly decreases or your ex-spouse’s income significantly increases, then you should contact me to file a Motion to increase your child support payments.
- If you are the parent without physical placement of your child and your income decreases or your ex-spouse’s income significantly increases, then you should contact me to file a Motion to lower your child support obligation.
The Center for Disease Control reports: “The cumulative number of divorces granted in 1997 was 1,163,000, 1 percent more than the number for 1996 (1,150,000). The divorce rate per 1,000 population for 1997 was the same as the rate for 1996 (4.3), the lowest divorce rate in over two decades (3). The divorce rate per 1,000 married women 15 years of age and over was 19.8 in 1997, 2 percent higher than the rate for 1996, (19.5) which was the lowest rate since 1974. The number of divorces granted in 1997 was lower than the number granted in 1996 for 22 States and the District of Columbia; the number granted was higher for 23 States in 1997 than the number granted in 1996. The following areas did not provide provisional divorce data in 1997: California, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, and Texas.” Provisional Data From the CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION/National Center for Health Statistics Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths for 1997 Vol. 46, No. 12 + July 28, 1998 ,
After a divorce, various post-divorce family court motions and disputes may arise as former spouses navigate issues related to child custody, support, property division, and more. Here are some common types of post-divorce family court motions and disputes:
- Child Custody Modifications: When circumstances change significantly, such as a parent relocating or a change in the child’s needs, either parent may file a motion to modify the existing child custody arrangement.
- Child Support Modifications: If there’s a change in either parent’s income, the needs of the child, or other relevant factors, a motion to modify child support may be filed to adjust the support amount.
- Spousal Support (Alimony) Modifications: Similar to child support, spousal support may be modified if there’s a substantial change in either spouse’s financial situation or other relevant factors.
- Enforcement of Court Orders: If one spouse fails to comply with the court-ordered terms of the divorce decree, such as failing to pay support or violating custody arrangements, the other party may file a motion to enforce the court order.
- Contempt of Court: If one spouse repeatedly and willfully disobeys court orders, a motion for contempt of court may be filed, potentially resulting in penalties or sanctions.
- Relocation Disputes: When a custodial parent wants to move a significant distance away with the child, the non-custodial parent may contest the relocation, requiring a court to decide whether it’s in the child’s best interest.
- Property Division Disputes: If there are disputes or disagreements regarding the division of property, assets, or debts that were not resolved during the initial divorce, a motion to reopen the property settlement may be filed.
- Modification of Visitation Schedule: If there are changes in work schedules, school schedules, or other factors affecting visitation, a parent may seek to modify the visitation schedule.
- Parenting Plan Modifications: Parenting plans often include specific guidelines for parenting decisions and responsibilities. If one parent wants to change the parenting plan, they can file a motion for modification.
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders: If there are concerns about domestic violence or harassment post-divorce, a party may request a restraining order for protection.
- Paternity Disputes: In cases where paternity was not established during the divorce but becomes a concern later, a motion to establish paternity may be filed.
- Custody Exchange and Communication Issues: Disputes can arise over the logistics of custody exchanges, communication between parents, and co-parenting decisions.
- Grandparent Visitation: In some cases, grandparents may seek court-ordered visitation rights with their grandchildren.
- Adoption: If one parent remarries and their new spouse wishes to adopt the child from a previous marriage, this may require court approval.
- Insurance and Medical Disputes: Issues related to health insurance coverage, medical expenses, and who is responsible for these costs may lead to disputes.
It’s important to note that the specific procedures and requirements for these motions and disputes can vary by jurisdiction and depend on the terms of the original divorce decree. It’s advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to navigate post-divorce disputes effectively.