Post-Divorce Modification and Enforcement in Chicago
Adapting to changing circumstances after dissolution
Following divorce, courts must frequently strike a balance between flexibility and stability. On one hand, allowing an order to be modified for every small change in circumstances is unfeasible. In the case of child custody, it may even be harmful. On the other hand, holding firm to an existing court order as the surrounding circumstances change can often produce unfair results. Therefore, courts in Chicago allow most family law orders to be modified only if the requesting party can show that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Our attorneys at Downs Law Offices can help you navigate the process of having a domestic relations order modified, allowing you to keep up with your life’s changing circumstances while still protecting your ability to enforce your rights in court.
What aspects of divorce can be modified?
Most divorce and domestic relations orders can be modified upon a proper showing of evidence or the consent of both parties:
- Child custody and visitation - Whether agreed upon by the parents or set by the court, a child custody or visitation order can be modified upon a showing of a change in circumstances or upon agreement of the parties. However, the court must still find that any proposed modification is not detrimental to the wellbeing of the child.
- Child support - Substantial fluctuations in the income of the parents or the changing needs of the child may justify a modification of child support. However, parents receiving child support cannot waive payments or consent to a reduction that is less than what the Illinois child support guidelines say is reasonable.
- Alimony - Spousal maintenance is less open to modification than other types of orders. If established by a premarital agreement, alimony generally cannot be modified unless an unforeseen circumstance works undue hardship upon one of the spouses. Otherwise, spousal maintenance is much more likely to be reduced than increased after divorce. Modification can occur if the payor spouse suffers a loss of income or the payee spouse remarries or experiences an increase in income.
Many divorced people in Chicago are tempted to simply enter into informal agreements with their former spouses when circumstances change. However, doing so can be dangerous. Court orders carry the force of law and remain enforceable until the court changes them. Conversely, informal agreements between the spouses are not enforceable until they have been approved by the court. For these reasons, you should always consult a post-divorce modification attorney before attempting to adjust the court’s orders.
Forcing compliance after divorce or separation
If your former spouse or partner is refusing to honor the terms of your divorce decree, custody order or support order, you have options. Remember, these court orders carry the force of law and the issuing court may hold a noncompliant party in contempt. A contempt order can levy fines, impose other sanctions and even call for imprisonment. An experienced post-decree enforcement lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need and guide you through the process of asking the court for assistance if your former spouse or partner breaks the terms of your court order.
Whether we worked with you during your divorce or you are looking for new legal counsel to modify or enforce your divorce decree or other court order, our attorneys at Downs Law Offices can help you obtain the results you need to move on with your life.
Continuing counsel even after your divorce is finalized
Our office offers a centralized location in Chicago’s Loop and flexible appointment schedules by special arrangement. Call Downs Law Offices today at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.