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Massachusetts Modifications & Contempt Lawyer

Changing or Enforcing Your Court Order

At the time of your divorce the judge will enter a judgment either accepting your agreement or making a decision after hearing all the evidence in a trial. A judgment after trial can always be modified in the future. If there is an agreement, it is up to the lawyers to specify in the agreement what parts of the agreement can be changed in the future and which cannot.

Typically the part of the judgment dealing with property division is usually written so that it cannot be changed in the future. But those aspects of the judgment dealing with children – custody, visitation, and child support cannot be set in stone, they must, by law, be subject to being changed in the future with a Complaint for Modification. Some aspects of an agreement, like alimony, can either be permanent or changeable, depending on how it’s written.

Enforcing a judgment can  be done with a Complaint for Contempt. So if you are not receiving child support, alimony or visitation according to the terms of the agreement, you have the ability to enforce your divorce decree. In order to be found in Contempt, it must be proved that there was a clear and unequivocal order or judgment, and that there is a willful disobedience of that clear order. The party trying to prove the Contempt has to prove that there was a clear order or judgment and a failure to comply. If the issue is payment of money, inability to pay is a defense. Sometimes, especially in cases of non payment of child support or alimony, the person who disobeyed the court order can be further ordered to pay attorney fees.

Modifications of Support, Custody and Visitation

The Law Office of Sanford I. Furman can guide you through the process of obtaining court-ordered modifications of child support, child custody, visitation and sometimes alimony in Massachusetts. He helps parents and ex-spouses throughout eastern Massachusetts, especially in greater Boston and Metrowest, including Wellesley, Newton, Worcester and Westborough, Framingham  make the necessary changes to orders such as the following:

  • Child SupportUnder the new child support guidelines either the payor or recipient has a right to seek a modification of child support every three years, but has to show that there has been a significant increase or decrease in his or her financial circumstances, especially income changes. Examples of events that could cause a change in support would include a substantial raise or job loss, or a child going to live with the other (payor) parent. Typically, just having additional income available from a new partner or spouse, does not trigger a modification of child support although it might be considered relevant to whether or not a child support order should be reduced.
  • CustodyA child custody order is never set in stone. Child custody may be modified if an ex-spouse becomes disabled or ill, moves out of the area or is sentenced to prison or experiences drug or alcohol addiction problems. Other less extreme factors could also trigger a change in custody, such as an older child expressing a strong preference for a change.
  • Visitation. At time of the divorce of initial parenting plan, parties sometimes try to address the fact that children’s needs change as they grow older. Sometimes, even with such changes built into an agreement, children’s needs or the parents’ needs change in unforeseen ways, and new schedules need to be put in place to address those changed needs.
  • Removal. One of the most difficult types of modifications involve situations in which the parent with primary custody wishes to move away in what is called a “removal.” Unless this issue was carefully and clearly dealt with in the original agreement the court can have a very challenging time deciding whether to permit a parent to move away with the children, weighing whether it is in the children’s best interest to move away with the custodial parent even if it means spending less time with the other parent. The court is required to focus on what is in the children’s best interest, but must, by law, consider, as part of it’s best interest of the child analysis, whether there is a “real advantage” to the parent with primary custody who wants to move. Whether you are the parent who wants to move and take your children with you, or the parent who wants to prevent the move and keep your children close to home so you can continue to see them frequently, you need an experienced divorce lawyer to assist you.
  • AlimonyEspecially in cases of long term marriages in which one parent was the primary income earner and the other parent was the primary homemaker and caregiver to the children, alimony is something that has to be considered. If there are minor children child support is often ordered but not alimony, but the court retains the right to order alimony in the future after the children are emancipated. In other cases, alimony might be ordered and the circumstances of the payor change in a significant way, such as loss of job or changes in health, and alimony needs to be changed.

Enforcing Support and Visitation Orders

If you are owed child support or alimony, or the custodial parent is failing to let you have your children for visitation, you may need to file a Complaint for Contempt. In some extreme cases, where there is no legally valid defense or the problem cannot be corrected, the court has the authority to impose penalties, including fines, attorney’s fees, and even jail in extreme cases.

The Law Office of Sanford I. Furman can guide you through the process of enforcing prior court judgments regarding child support, alimony, and custody and visitation and enforce your rights under those judgments. Attorney Furman can also assist you in defending against contempt where there is a valid legal justification for not complying. Attorney Furman helps parents and ex-spouses throughout eastern Massachusetts, especially in greater Boston and Metrowest, including Wellesley, Newton, Worcester and Westborough, Framingham and Natick deal effectively with Contempt issues

Free Initial Consultation

Please contact the Law Office of Sanford I. Furman by phone or e-mail if you have a court order that needs to be modified or enforced issue to schedule a free consultation. Evening meetings can be arranged by appointment in his offices in Wellesley and Westbrough.