Many people are relieved when a court has finalized an Alabama divorce. An Alabama divorce decree generally brings to an end and extremely difficult and emotionally draining process. It also serves as a jumping point for former spouses to begin focusing on starting new lives, even though they may have already begun the process of moving on before the divorce was finalized. In most situations, though it can be accompanied by uncertainty and other stressful emotions, the finalization of an Alabama divorce is a welcome relief. However, while it can certainly mean that the legal process associated with divorce has come to an end, there are situations where you may still find yourself back in court after your Alabama divorce has been granted. The most common reasons people need to return to court after their Alabama divorce are found below.
Modification of Support
Alabama divorces that involve spousal support, also known as alimony, or child support orders generally have specific terms and conditions related to that support spelled out in the decree. Alabama custody arrangements also tend to have rather permanent structure to them. However, while some of these orders are meant to be permanent at least for a specified amount of time, it is often impossible to predict when and how a particular spouse’s circumstances might change. When significant changes in circumstances occur, such changes may warrant a modification of the terms of the divorce. For instance, becoming unemployed for an extended period of time may reduce the amount of child support owed during the period of unemployment. The same could potentially be true for alimony awards. Another example of where modification may be possible is if one spouse has begun engaging in behavior that may not be in the child’s best interests. In these types of circumstances, the court will typically use a prescribed formula to reconfigure support payments or may have to reevaluate new custody terms by determining what is in the child’s best interest at the time of the request to modify an agreement.
While one of the purposes of Alabama divorce proceedings is to determine how assets should be divided, the process of doing so is not always this simple. There may be a number of assets that former spouses still share that require transfer of ownership or other formalities to be met before they no longer have an impact on each spouse. For instance, if your divorce decree specifies that you should receive a particular vehicle that your former spouse is in possession of at the time the divorce has been finalized, your former spouse is obligated to deliver that vehicle and comply with steps that may be necessary to remove their name from the title. In some situations, their may be joint debts in both former spouses’ names that have been divided between the spouses in an effort to ensure they are paid off. You and your former spouse are obligated to ensure timely payments on those shared debts as per the divorce decree. In situations where a spouse refuses to deliver property or other assets, or does not comply with financial obligations contained within the decree, a former spouse can return to the court to ask that the court enforce the divorce decree.
When a judge determines that you have not complied with the terms and conditions of your Alabama divorce decree, including division of assets or any form of financial support, they may find that you have acted in contempt of court. Alabama contempt of court occurs when a party willfully and knowingly defies an order from an Alabama court. Penalties for Alabama contempt of court can vary depending on the circumstances of the contempt charges but may include fines, jail time, forfeiture of certain assets, and/or other things within the judge’s discretion and power depending on the type of contempt charges you are facing.
Legal Assistance with Divorce and Beyond
Regardless of whether or not your Alabama divorce was settled on amicable terms, it is a good idea to maintain a relationship with your Birmingham divorce attorney to ensure that your rights are protected should any loose ends arise that need to be addressed. Selecting a Birmingham divorce attorney is not an easy process, so maintaining a relationship with an attorney familiar with your case as well as the details of your divorce decree can be beneficial should you find yourself needing to return to court for any reason. If you are considering divorce or have questions regarding the status of a current or pending Alabama divorce decree, contact Alabama Divorce & Family Lawyers, LLC to schedule a consultation where you can discuss your concerns and find out more about what options are available to you under the law in your circumstances.