How do I enforce or modify divorce terms in a post judgment divorce case in New York??

No matter how amicable or contentious a divorce case was, issues can arise after judgment that can be dealt with in the Supreme Court.  As a Nassau County Divorce Lawyer, I frequently defend against or bring applications in the Family Courts in Long Island, New York City and the surrounding regions of New York involving post judgment child support, child custody, maintenance or orders of protection issues for both my ex-husband and ex-wife clients.  The Supreme Court, however, is usually available to deal with these post judgment issues as well.

Sometimes, the issues must be dealt with in the Supreme Court such as for enforcement of a property settlement, an attempt to vacate certain terms of the divorce, or in the event that exclusive continuing jurisdiction is reserved in the Supreme Court for future matters involving child support, child custody, or maintenance. Often times the Supreme Court is selected to deal with issues over the Family Court as the Supreme Court can deal with the issues as part of one case, while the Family Court requires the issues to be dealt with in separate cases.  For example, support issues are assigned to a Support Magistrate while custody issues may be assigned to a Referee or a Judge in the Family Court.   This blog entry is intended to outline some of the more common issues that the Supreme Court can deal with that come up soon after or many years after a couple has divorced.  More specifics about the specific areas of law are covered in other blog entries and on my website.

Contempt or enforcement applications often come up after a divorce.  These applications are done when either the former wife or husband is asking the court to punish the other party for their disregard of the order or to help them enforce the terms of the divorce.   The contempt allegation may be that one of the parties violated:  an Order of Protection that was issued as part of the divorce; the provisions involving a property settlement; the requirement to sell the marital residence; the custody and parenting time provisions in the divorce; the terms of the payment of child support or maintenance (formerly known as alimony); or other provisions that were a part of the terms included or incorporated into the Judgment of Divorce.  Remedies for contempt could be money damages, incarceration, modification of the previous terms, or the award of attorney fees among other possibilities.

Modification proceedings are the next big category of post judgment divorce cases that usually come up.  The modification of:  child support; maintenance; custody; or parenting time issues are some of the most frequent issues that make up post judgment divorce cases.  The same standards are applied that would be used to attempt to modify these orders in the Family Court.

The common requirement to all of these subject matters is that there needs to be a substantial change of circumstances from the last order to the time of the request to change it in order to be able to proceed with the case.  Other reasons that child support orders made after the entry of New York’s No Fault Divorce Law in 2010 can be sought to be modified are if either parties’ income has changed by fifteen percent or more since the last order or if three or more years has elapsed since the entry of the last order.  A request to have a child declared constructively emancipated because of financial independence or abandonment of the non-custodial parent in order to terminate child support can be made as a post judgment divorce case in the Supreme Court.  Child custody and parenting time cases require both a substantial change of circumstances and a determination that a change is in the best interests of the children in order to make a change to a custody order.

There are intricacies and a lot more details about all of these subject areas which can only be fully appreciated after years of matrimonial and family law practice.  Please click around my blog and website for more information.  Also, do not hesitate to call for your free initial consultation.  It would be our pleasure to speak with you about it.

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