Post Decree Divorce Proceedings
Ending your marriage can be a lengthy and complex process. Once the ink is dry on your final divorce decree or judgment, you will probably be ready to put your marital difficulties behind you and move on with your life. However, there are a variety of divorce-related issues that may come up in the years to come, including requesting that changes be made to your divorce decree or ensuring that your ex-spouse meets their legal obligations. If you are returning to court to address these matters, you need a dedicated lawyer by your side who can help you achieve the best possible outcome to your case.
At Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd., we know that the divorce process can be difficult, and the last thing you want after it has finished is to go back to court for additional legal battles. In some cases, however, doing so may be necessary to ensure that you can meet your family’s changing needs or to make sure your former spouse follows their requirements. We will provide you with dedicated representation during post-divorce litigation, working to protect your rights and addressing your ongoing concerns.
Modification of Divorce Decrees
Even though a divorce decree is meant to be “final,” it may need to be updated as your circumstances change. While some issues, such as the division of marital property, cannot be modified, other terms may be changed, including:
- Child custody – If children’s needs change, or if other circumstances or disputes arise, a parent may request a modification to the allocation of decision-making responsibility. Parenting time arrangements may also need to be updated to address changes in children’s school schedules, parents’ work schedules, extracurricular activities, or child care arrangements. In cases involving parental relocation, a parent may need to petition the court for permission to move with a child and make any necessary modifications to the parenting plan.
- Child support – Since the financial support parents are obligated to provide for children is based on the income earned by both parents, any increase or decrease in either parent’s income may require an adjustment to child support orders. Parents may also ask for a modification based on an increase in children’s needs, such as expenses related to treatment for a medical condition, extracurricular activities or other child related expenses.
- Spousal maintenance – Spousal support/alimony is automatically terminated upon the death of either ex-spouse or the remarriage of the recipient. However, either party may ask for payments to be modified or terminated based on changes in income or other circumstances that would affect finances.
College and Post-High School Educational Expenses
Under Illinois law, a court can order a parent to contribute to a child’s “post high school educational expenses” which includes a “college education or vocational or professional or other training after graduation from high school.” The divorce or parentage judgment may provide terms that generally reserve this issue especially if parents have young children at the time of entry of the Judgment. The drafting of these provisions are very important especially if a parent is seeking retroactive contribution. If there is no provision providing for retroactivity, it is very important to file a petition for contribution to post-high school educational expenses well in advance of incurring such expenses.
In addition to tuition, the expenses that may be included are: Fees, actual costs of housing but cannot exceed the residence hall operated by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, medical expenses including medical insurance and dental expenses, reasonable living expenses and the cost of books and other supplies necessary to attend college.
If you are unsure about college contribution and the timing, it is important to contact an experienced attorney to assist and answer your questions. Corri Fetman & Associates, Ltd. is always available to help with post-high school educational expenses and college concerns. Call us at (312) 341-0900 or contact us at cfalawfirm.com.
Enforcement of Court Orders and Judgments
A divorce decree or judgment is a court order and both parties are required to abide by its terms. If your ex-spouse fails to pay court-ordered child support or spousal maintenance, if they do not relinquish property allocated to you in the divorce, if they fail to maintain life insurance as required, if they fail to follow the agreed parenting time schedule, if they fail to pay child support, or if they commit any other violations of your divorce order, you may ask to have them held in contempt of court and enforcement of the judgment. In some cases, you may be entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs for pursuit of any of the foregoing infractions.
If a judge rules that your ex-spouse has willfully violated the court’s orders, civil or criminal sanctions can be imposed. Civil contempt may involve orders intended to ensure they meet certain requirements, such as garnishing their wages to ensure that child support will be paid. Criminal contempt is usually applicable if there have been repeated violations, and this ruling may result in fines, jail time, or other penalties.
To learn how we can help you address these matters, contact us at 312-341-0900 or email us on our website.