When children are involved, the divorce process can often lead to life-long commitments, such as those in the parenting plan and child support payments. When those commitments aren’t met, one of two things can happen.
If there is just cause for a parent’s failure to follow the plan, the parent may petition for a post divorce adjustment to the alimony, child support, or parenting plan. There are many definitions of “just cause.” The judge’s decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. However, the most common causes for post-judgment adjustments are the loss of a job, new financial burdens which aren’t the former spouse’s fault, and an unexpected windfall.
If there is no just cause, the benefiting parent can request enforcement of the plan. This usually happens when a parent refuses to pay alimony or child support. This can be accomplished through a legal petition. If the paying party doesn’t have an adequate defense, their property could be seized or their assets liquidated in order to pay off the debt.
To make a post divorce adjustment to the parenting plan, a parent must prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. These must not have been present when the original plan was made. This includes moving to a new neighborhood, getting a new job, or taking anger-management classes. Either parent may petition the court based on a change in one parent’s circumstances. A change in the Parenting Plan can result in a change in the child’s time-sharing schedule; the responsibilities allocated to parents; or to alimony and child support.
Another common reason to adjust the Parenting Plan is relocation. If both parents agree to move to approximately the same area, a joint petition may be filed. These are usually successful.
If one parent objects, it can be very difficult to relocate. This is especially true if both parents share time equally with the child. If one parent has more involvement in the child’s life than the other, it is possible to successfully request permission. The judge will consider factors like the child’s relationship to each parent, the effect relocation will have on the relationships, and the reasons for relocation.