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Some things in the final judgment of divorce may be changed if the parties’ situations change. However, some things may not be changed, except in extraordinary circumstances.
It is unlikely that any decisions about the division of property or debts will be changed. However, child support, alimony, custody, and visitation arrangements may be changed if the parties can show a good reason for the change. For example, if one party becomes unable to work or the other gets a large increase in salary, the court may reconsider the child support order. Or, if the non-custodial parent believes that something has changed to prevent the custodial parent from being able to take care of a child, he or she could request a change in custody. If both parties agree to a change, they may draft a consent order and file it with the court. If the court accepts the agreement, the judge and both parties will sign the consent order.
If the parties do not agree to a change, the party seeking a change must file an application called a motion with the court. If you want to file a motion for relief after the final judgment of divorce, go to the courthouse where you got your divorce and ask for the forms to file a post-judgment motion. Court staff may be able to give you forms to prepare your motion. You can also find these forms at Legal Practice Forms (from the New Jersey Courts).
Practical Steps After Your Final Judgment of Divorce
Once the judge signs the final judgment of divorce, you might have to take some steps to make sure you get what the court ordered. Below are some things you may have to do, depending upon your situation. The list below does not cover every situation; rather, it highlights a few of the most common actions that parties might have to take after a divorce.
- You must send the defendant a signed copy of the final judgment of divorce.
- In addition to the copy of the final judgment signed by the judge at your hearing, you might want to get a certified copy of your judgment. This is a document that has a special raised seal on it. It is a good idea to get a certified copy because you may need it in order to change certain documents or to get a marriage license, should you want to remarry.
- If the judge ordered that you can use another name, you might want to notify Social Security, the Motor Vehicle Commission, IRS, and other agencies or institutions. You should call them to see if they require a certified copy of your judgment.
- If the judge ordered the defendant to pay debts on credit cards or to pay premiums on insurance policies, you should make sure that the defendant is doing what he or she was ordered to do. The regular payment of insurance premiums is very important. If the defendant is not paying them, you might have to pay them yourself until you can go back to court to get your money back from the defendant and get the defendant to make future payments. You will have to file a motion to enforce the final judgment. To do this, you must go to the courthouse where your divorce was granted. Most counties have forms for this kind of motion, and the court can also give you information on how to prepare the papers. You can also find these forms on the New Jersey Courts website. You may need help from a lawyer to do this. If your divorce judgment divided real estate, you will have to fill out deeds and other documents in order to transfer property according to the divorce judgment. You may also need to fill out titles or other documents for the transfer of automobiles and other kinds of personal property. You may need help from a lawyer to do this.
- Child support is usually collected and delivered through the probation department. The judge will generally direct his or her staff to make certain that probation gets a copy of this order. However, you may also want to notify probation and send them a copy of your order to make sure that the child support case is promptly opened and enforced.
If you file a motion to enforce your divorce judgment and the court finds that the defendant is in violation of the order, the court may order a number of punishments. For example, the court may order that your spouse do what he or she has been ordered to do within a certain time period or risk having the court issue a warrant for arrest. You should be aware that it is hard to execute a warrant on a defendant, especially one who doesn’t live in New Jersey. It is even harder to enforce a court order on a defendant who lives outside of the United States. However, you can often send a message to your ex-spouse by filing a motion to enforce a court order and exposing the fact that he or she is not complying with the directions of the court. A lawyer can prepare and file a motion for you, but this does not necessarily guarantee that your ex-spouse will abide by the court order in the future. Unfortunately, ex-spouses often repeatedly try to avoid their responsibilities, which results in a loss of time and money in trying to actually get what you were awarded in your divorce.
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