What is a Post-Judgment Modification?
A post-judgment modification refers to a change that occurs after a particular court decision has been made. There are a litany of reasons why this happens. Most modifications are done to preserve the best interests of the parties involved.
What Judgments Can Be Modified?
Alimony, spousal support, child visitation and child custody arrangements can be modified as needed. The only restrictions are if there is any language already put in place that prevents changes from being made. The existing documentation should be reviewed carefully before submitting a modification request.
Changes may be required for alimony agreements if the person who was ordered to pay their former partner has lost their job or been hospitalized. The amount of alimony could be adjusted if the payor’s income has been increased or reduced. Some people receiving spousal support may ask to receive less money if they are able to sustain themselves financially at least in part.
Child support payments are usually determined by the parents’ employment and income at the time of their separation or divorce. Of course, this can change over time. The formula that’s currently used to calculate child support in the state of Maryland will be adjusted as parents’ income sources and levels change. In those instances, a child support modification may be beneficial.
Parents are not allowed to purposely have earnings that are insufficient to fulfill their child support obligations, also known as voluntary impoverishment. It’s understandable if the person who was ordered to pay child support may have lost a job and needs time to find suitable employment. However, that person can’t intentionally stop working or accept a job that will not allow them to pay child support as originally agreed. An adult who is currently in jail is usually not found to be voluntarily impoverished unless they deliberately committed a crime so they would not have to pay child support during their imprisonment.
Incarcerated parents are not required to make child support payments in certain instances. Those payments will not be made up in arrears if the person can’t afford to make those payments while in prison and isn’t currently on work release, did not commit a crime just to get out of paying child support or was sentenced to a prison term of 180 consecutive days or more as of October 1, 2012. The current child support agreement will remain in place, whether or not payments are due. Payments that are in arrears must be paid beginning at 60 days from when the parent was released from prison or jail.
If a person was found by a court of law to have willingly impoverished themself, a judge may decide to have income imputed. The court will act on the assumption that the person who is required to make child support payments has income, whether that assumption is true or not. The parent’s income and education levels, prior work history, dates of employment changes, physical condition and other attributes are taken into consideration when making that determination.
Co-parenting, child visitation and child custody are often subject to change. Children grow older and may prefer one parent over the other. A parent may change jobs, decide to move to another city or state, become chemically dependent or even sentenced to time in prison. Schedules can change due to different work or school schedules, medical emergencies and additions or cancellations of plans for holiday getaways and other special events. These and many other circumstances can warrant modifications to the existing arrangements and schedules.
Some changes may be temporary, such as a change of employment hours because of a new job or a new hire training period. Others, such as a relocation or remarriage, may be permanent. Knowing how these adjustments can affect alimony, child support, child custody, child visitation and co-parenting arrangements may make it easier to modify the existing terms.
How Can I Have My Judgment Modified?
Any changes should be made in writing. That way, there’s no ambiguity or concern about hearsay that can arise from verbal agreements. Written changes can also confirm the present situation and why the modification request was made.
A motion must be filed in the same circuit court where the alimony, child custody, child support or child visitation petition first began. All involved parties should be given a copy of the modification documents. The request must be signed and dated. You may need to include your original case number or any other pertinent information as well.
Child support modification requests can be made in the state of Maryland once every three years. Those requests will be evaluated by the Office of Child Support Enforcement. A decision will be made that does not put one party at an unfair advantage over the other.
Any child support payments that are made via the Maryland Child Support Enforcement department will be put on hold if the payor is sentenced to jail on or after October 1, 2012. The incarcerated person will not be held liable for making those payments during their prison term. However, they should expect to resume payments once their sentence has ended.
Child support payments can be modified automatically by the Child Support Enforcement office with no court motions necessary. The person who is set to receive child support will be notified by mail regarding any adjustments to their child support money.
A motion will need to be filed if a parent needs to change their child support requirements while in prison if they were sentenced before October 1, 2012. Payments will add up in arrears during their time in jail. Payments cannot be modified once they are late. A payor may make a change request to the Child Support Enforcement department before their sentence begins. Any adjustments that are made will only be effective during the prison term. Once the person has been released from jail, they will be expected to make their current and late child support payments. A court can make a temporary modification to a child support order if a material situation change can be proven.
If you have questions or need to make a support modification, we can help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Our trained professionals will work for you and provide valuable advice. We want to help you get your life back on track again.