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Kane County order modification attorneyThe end of a marriage can be devastating for many reasons. Life after divorce can seem daunting, especially the thought of starting over again. There are many things to resolve, such as how to divide marital property or assets, allocation of parental responsibilities, as well as child support or spousal support. Formerly known in Illinois as “alimony,” spousal support or maintenance may be awarded to one of the spouses in a divorce depending on the situation. However, although the amount set during the divorce proceedings may be appropriate at the time, a significant change in circumstances may call for an amendment to a spousal support order. 

How is Spousal Maintenance Distributed?

The reason for spousal maintenance in any divorce is to assist a financially dependent spouse who does not have the income or means to be self-supporting post-divorce. This is typically a stay-at-home parent who did not work outside the home while raising children. In some scenarios, a couple may agree to the amount and how often payments will be dispersed. If a couple cannot agree, they will have to go to court and a judge will determine how it should be distributed.

Depending on the terms of the divorce decree, spousal support payments can take various forms:

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Kane County divorce attorneysDepending on the couple and their circumstances, a divorce can take weeks or months to finalize. Once the legal proceedings are complete, a final divorce decree will be issued, which officially documents the terms of the divorce. However, sometimes a significant change in circumstances can warrant a modification of part or all of the original order. When a divorce settlement is no longer relevant for a couple or does not fit the needs of their children, it is possible to alter the terms of it through a post-decree modification. If you or your ex-spouse requests a post-divorce order modification for any reason, it is helpful to know the process and how it affects your rights regarding matters such as child-related issues or spousal maintenance.  

Reasons for Changing a Judgment Order

We all know life can change in an instant, whether it be from a sudden medical event such as a heart attack or stroke to unexpectedly losing a job. For instance, child support payments are calculated based on parent’s income. If the paying parent loses his or her job and cannot afford the payments, he or she may request a modification of the child support order. Some other examples of major life events that would justify a modification can include: 

  • Being laid off or fired from a long-time occupation, which impacts child or spousal support (alimony)
  • Being transferred out of the state or country for work, ultimately affecting the allocation of parental responsibilities and/or parenting time
  • Contracting a serious illness that requires extensive medical care 
  • Suffering a catastrophic injury that results in a disability or lost wages
  • One or both ex-spouses remarrying, which typically requires a reduction in spousal or child support payments

Steps for Amending a Judgment Order

To request a change to an order, one of the former spouses must file a “motion to modify” the divorce judgment. This motion is typically filed with the same court that issued the original divorce decree. The main steps to take when modifying an order are:

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St. Charles divorce lawyersWhen two people get divorced, the court typically issues a final judgment that documents the terms and conditions of the divorce. However, it is not uncommon for there to be changes to the original divorce settlement or agreement. Sometimes these changes are necessary due to lifestyle changes or if they are in the best interest of a couple’s child. Post-judgment order modifications can include a change in the child support payment amount or allocation of parental responsibilities if one parent loses his or her job or moves to another state. 

Steps to Take for Enforcing an Order

Post-divorce decree issues can often become hostile and expensive. It is ideal if everyone involved can resolve these issues without taking actions such as contempt of court. If possible, negotiating an amicable resolution saves all parties time and money. However, this is not always the case if one party does not follow an order. If one party is not willing to cooperate, someone can pursue enforcement through the courts by filing a contempt of court motion. In the majority of divorce cases, contempt of court actions are typically filed for reasons such as:

  • Non-payment of child support;
  • Non-payment of spousal maintenance;
  • Failure to adhere to parental responsibility and parenting time agreements; and
  • Sale of property that violates property settlement agreements.

The Illinois Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) has the authority to implement certain enforcement procedures. For example, if one parent is behind on child support payments, they can garnish wages from his or her paycheck. Sometimes, the DCSS gets overloaded with a lot of cases, and a lawyer can file a contempt of court motion on a parent’s behalf to help recover any money that is owed.

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