Even after a divorce or legal separation is finalized, issues may arise that require change to the terms of the final agreement or court order. This is not as uncommon as one might expect. Judgments are modifiable because circumstance do change.
Some of the types of post-decree motions can be:
There are multiple reasons a modification of custody or parenting time may be necessary. A child may decide that he or she wants to live with the other parent. A parent may change jobs or move which can affect parenting time. A parent or child may have a health issue arise that requires a change to parenting time. Sometimes the parties are simply unable to make decisions together in the best interests of their child and request that the court modify the decision-making provisions of their parenting orders. When this occurs, a Motion to Modify Parenting Time/Decision Making may be appropriate. In order to request changes, the change must be in the best interest of the child. A higher standard, endangerment, applies when the post-decree relief sought includes relocating the child, changing the parent with whom the child has majority parenting time, or restricting one parent’s parenting time, among other things.
When financial circumstances change for either party, a change to child support or spousal maintenance may be in order. For instance, the former spouse making support payments may be forced to change jobs or may experience reduced hours at work. Sometimes a former spouse gets a raise. When a substantial and continuing change in circumstances occurs, either party can request that the payments be changed to accommodate their new financial situation. The standard for modifying child support is a continuing change in circumstances so substantial as to lead to a 10% or more change in the bottom-line child support amount. Assuming that the parties have not previously agreed that maintenance is nonmodifiable, maintenance may be modified upon “a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuous as to make the terms unfair.” C.R.S. 14-10-122.
In cases where one of the parties knowingly fails to follow the orders of the court, and has the ability to do so, this is referred to as “contempt of court.” Failure to make child support payments, spousal maintenance payments, or failure to follow another order of the court can result in a finding of contempt, the imposition of fines, and possible jail time.