Changes after a divorce give rise to many post divorce issues that may require modification of the agreements or orders entered during the divorce proceedings. Such changes include relocation of one or both former spouses, remarriage, enforcement of the agreements or orders entered in the divorce, modification of alimony or modifications of custody and/or child support.
A substantial change in need or a substantial change in ability to pay can result in a post judgment modification of alimony. Examples of events or circumstances resulting in possible modification include disability, change in living arrangements (cohabitation or remarriage), costs of living adjustments, or change in law, just to name a few. A party must show that there has been a substantial and material change of circumstances, unforeseen at the time of divorce and that the change warrants a change in alimony. Not all types of alimony are modifiable.
Child Support Modification
Child support orders can be modified for a variety of reasons, including when the expenses of the children increase with age, one party begins to make more or less money, a child becomes disabled, or by the voluntary request of one parent. Modification of the child support order, however, requires a significant variance, and the determination of the significance of the variance can become quite complicated.
Child Custody Modification
Child custody orders can be modified due to substantial changes in circumstances. Such changes in circumstances could include the moving of one parent, incidents of domestic abuse, or conditions rendering the old parenting plan no longer in the child’s best interest. In such events, courts will assess the changed circumstances and decide whether or not to modify the existing plan based upon the best interests of the child.
Relocation can be complicated when children are involved, especially considering the current parenting plan and the parent’s reasons to relocate. Notification is required, with certain specificity. Relocation can be hotly contested, and courts will look to the best interests of the child in determining the modification of the parenting plan. The parties must follow a specific procedure provided for in the Tennessee Code when relocating.
Parents and former spouses can be held in criminal and civil contempt for failing to adhere to the terms of the divorce, including the parenting plan. The elements for civil contempt and criminal contempt differ, and each must be proven before the offending party can be held in contempt.
Sanctions for contempt can range from small fines to time in jail.