What is post decree relief?
Divorce, by its very nature, is an adversarial undertaking. At times characterized by conflict or opposition, even after the divorce is finalized there may be some lingering residual hostilities between couples which may not have been adequately resolved.
If issues cannot be resolved amicably between the combative couple, an attorney can file for Post Decree Relief or a Post Decree Motion in court behalf of his client.
As the term suggests, “post” simply means “after” and/or “later.” Simply put, after the divorce or legal separation has been finalized, a disputing couple may engage in “post-decree litigation.”
Often, an ex-spouse may feel that their former partner may have taken advantage of them, purposely violated a provision within the divorce decree, or disobeyed a court order.
If the issue cannot be settled decisively between the two parties (e.g., a specific date for receiving alimony payments), the aggrieved spouse can ask her attorney to file a motion with the court requesting that the court enforce that stipulation within the divorce decree.
Issues seeking Post Decree Relief
It is not uncommon for fighting couples to lose focus and battle over trivial issues when seeking a divorce. However, there are certain issues that the courts take very seriously.
Child custody and support
A majority of adjudicated divorce cases heading back to court seeking Post Decree Relief involve disputes over child-related issues, such as child support, custody, and visitation rights.
The court has special prerogatives in cases involving young children, in that regardless of the original divorce decree, the court keeps its authority to hear future matters involving child-related issues. This special prerogative is known as “the continuing jurisdiction of the court.”
Disputes involving children after a divorce settlement are not uncommon; therefore, it is up to the courts to settle these disagreements. A parent and/or couple may ask the court to modify or change current custody arrangements, visitation rights, or perhaps something that was not within the initial divorce settlement.
However, before the court grants any changes to the original divorce settlement, the parent seeking the change must prove that:
- Circumstances have changed since the time of the initial custody order
- The change is in the best interest of the child
- The benefit to the child in seeking a change far outweighs any harm
Alimony is another big post-litigation issue. As with issues involving children, the courts retain jurisdiction over alimony. If financial circumstances regarding spousal support change, the court can intervene and even modify the original decree if necessary. This usually takes place if an unforeseen and significant event affects one’s earning capacity.
For example, the sudden loss of a job or a catastrophic accident or illness may require the court to lower or even suspend alimony payments indefinitely.