Your Divorce Is Final...Or Is It?

Posted on: 16 August 2021


Most people are very relieved to see their divorce paperwork finally arrive. The final decree or petition is composed of everything the parties agree to and addresses everything from child custody to debt. Unfortunately, it might not be final in some situations. Read on to find out more.

Most Divorce Decrees Have These Elements

A quick glance at a divorce decree will prove that it's made up of a wide range of provisions addressing different issues. Each time you and your spouse agree on an issue, it goes into the decree. The final product not only legally divorces you from each other but also hands down orders from the judge. In most cases, those orders can be about:

  • Parenting issues like custody, child support, visitation, health insurance coverage, etc.
  • Debt issues like who is responsible for paying certain bills
  • Property issues to divide up marital property like homes, vehicles, and more

When Issues Pop Up

As time goes on, divorce decrees can be questioned. Not only do the parties sometimes want to make changes in the decree, but the parties may be in violation of one or more of the orders. When it comes to making changes, judges are usually extremely reluctant. The orders are meant to remain in place forever. Those to do with minor-aged children are an exception, however. While child custody and visitation orders are difficult to alter, the judge may be more likely to at least consider a change if it is warranted. That would include cases in which the health and well-being of the child would be in danger if the order remained unchanged.

Disobedience of the Decree

A court order must be obeyed, or the party could be charged with contempt of court. If your spouse is not following the orders, take the following steps:

  1. Make sure the issue is important and serious. Don't bring minor matters to court, but try to work it out with your ex.
  2. Have proof ready to show your lawyer and the judge. That means police reports, photographs, video evidence, witnesses, and more.
  3. Contact your divorce lawyer or a family lawyer, and have them file a motion for a hearing (sometimes called a show-cause hearing).
  4. The hearing allows the judge to inform the parties of potential ramifications if they continue to disobey the order. For example, they might be threatened with fines or jail time if they fail to comply with a custody order.

Speak to a divorce attorney about any issues with your divorce decree.