Post-Decree Enforcement and Modification

After the court enters a final divorce or dissolution decree, additional proceedings to enforce or modify the order are sometimes necessary. As an Ohio family law attorney, Rick Marks assists clients in Portage and Summit Counties with court actions for post-decree enforcement and modification.

Experience and Practice Approach

In 1995, Rick Marks and Beth Chandler-Marks established Marks & Chandler Co., L.P.A. as a husband-and-wife law firm with a practice focused exclusively on family law. After Beth transitioned her practice to education law, Rick continued Marks & Chandler as a solo practice law firm, which it remains today.

By concentrating only on family law, Rick maintains an exceptional level of knowledge of the Ohio statutes and case law applicable to his practice. Limiting the scope of his practice also enables Rick to devote his full time and attention to helping and supporting his family law clients.

Rick understands that revisiting the terms of a court’s dissolution or divorce decree to request changes or pursue enforcement is a difficult and stressful process. His compassionate approach includes maintaining close communication with you throughout the entire process. He provides legal and moral support to minimize the stress of the situation and to help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family. You can always reach Rick to ask questions or address concerns, including evenings and weekends.

The success of Rick’s approach to practice is demonstrated by the fact many of his clients come through referrals from former clients and other attorneys.

Modification of a Divorce or Dissolution Decree

Ohio courts retain jurisdiction of a case after issuance of a final dissolution or divorce decree. A post-decree modification motion may be filed with the court to request provisions in the decree relating to custody and parenting terms, child support, or spousal support. A specific statutory provision prohibits a court from modifying a division or disbursement of property or a distributive award, except on express written agreement or consent to the modification by both parties.

Modification typically is requested when substantial changes in the financial or parenting circumstances of the parties justify requesting changes in the terms of the final decree relating to custody and parenting terms, child support, or spousal support. Examples include significant changes in income or employment, illness, or relocation.

To modify the provisions in the decree relating to custody, parenting time, or child support, three criteria must be met:

  1. A substantial change of circumstances occurred since the original order was entered.
  2. The requested modification is in the best interests of the child.
  3. The benefit from the modification outweighs the harm.

The burden is on the requesting party to demonstrate to the court that all three of the above requirements are met.

The requirements for a substantial change of circumstances and benefit outweighing harm also apply in the case of modifications to spousal support. However, the ability to request a modification in spousal support may be affected by the provisions in the original court decree. The order may give the court continuing jurisdiction over spousal support or may prohibit changes after the decree is issued. But even if the decree prohibits changes, Ohio case law may allow a party to seek modification, if the change of circumstances in question was not taken into account by either party or by the original court at the time of the order.

In some circumstances, changes in child support may be accomplished administratively through the county Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA), instead of filing a motion in court. Your lawyer helps you determine which process is better in your situation.

Enforcement of a Final Decree

If one of the parties fails or refuses to comply with any terms of the original dissolution or divorce decree, the other party may file a contempt action to enforce the original order. A contempt action is available for any of the provisions in the final decree, including terms relating to division of property.

In a contempt action, the court may order the party to comply with the provisions of the decree, as well as issue fines. In cases involving parenting issues, the court has authority to provide for additional parenting time if one party interfered with the other party’s ability to spend time with the child. In addition, a successful party in a contempt action may also be able to recover attorney’s fees and court costs from the other party.

For a failure to pay child support, the CSEA has a range of enforcement tools available, including criminal prosecution in some circumstances.

Assistance with Post-Decree Modification and Enforcement

If you face a situation involving a former spouse who fails or refuses to comply with the provisions of a final court decree, or your financial or parenting situation has changed substantially, Rick Marks can help you with a motion for modification or a contempt action.

With his exclusive focus on family law and extensive experience, Rick can assess the situation with your final decree and discuss options for solving issues that have arisen since the court’s original order. His compassionate approach and support help alleviate the stress of additional court proceedings. In court and with opposing counsel, Rick is a fearless advocate who protects your rights and works hard to resolve issues and reach a fair and reasonable result.

Schedule a Consultation

To talk with Rick Marks about post-decree modification or enforcement or any other family law matter, please call (330) 677-9000 or use the online contact form. From his office in Kent, Rick assists clients in Portage County and Summit County.