Stipulations and Orders to Amend a Judgment
As with anything in life, family arrangements after a divorce can often change. Parents may remarry, add stepchildren to a family, or move across the country for work. As life moves onward, families may need to accommodate these changes through modifications to existing divorce orders, awards of maintenance or child support, or custody arrangements. Milwaukee family law attorney Terese J. Singer can help you pursue an order to amend a judgment or work to keep your existing order in place.
The path toward modifying a family law order depends significantly on the current relationship between the two ex-spouses who are trying to amend a judgment. If the parties can cooperate and agree to a modification, the process can be fairly straightforward. If one ex-spouse disagrees with a proposed amendment to a family law order, however, the process will be more formal and protracted.When Can Family Law Judgments Be Modified?
In Wisconsin, there are three primary ways that a family law judgment can be modified, depending on how long it has been since the judgment was originally entered. First, if the original judgment is less than two years old, there is a strong preference against modification at such an early date. Accordingly, a parent must be able to show that the current arrangement is resulting in physical or emotional harm to a child.
If the judgment is more than two years old, the standard changes. Rather than showing harm, a parent must simply show that there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original judgment was entered, and, based on that change, it is in the best interest of the child to modify the existing order.
Finally, when the parents can agree that a modification to a custody or support order is necessary, they can change the order at any time through a stipulation. When the parties are in agreement, the court is less concerned about the need to ensure that the interests of the child are protected, since presumably the parents have jointly considered that factor.The Process for Modifying or Amending an Order
When the parties can agree on a modification or amendment, the process is very easy. A stipulation can be prepared by both parents and filed with the court. Unless there is something unusual or concerning in the stipulation, the court typically will not require a hearing on the issue. Instead, it will simply enter a new order making the changes part of the amended order.
When the parties disagree, and only one parent is seeking a modification or amendment, that parent must file a motion with the court and show that he or she has the evidence required to support the motion – evidence of either harm or a substantial change in circumstances. After the motion is filed, an initial hearing will usually be held to confirm that there is sufficient evidence to proceed. Assuming that there is, the parties will be ordered to participate in mediation to see if their disagreements can be informally resolved.
If mediation is not successful, the court may order that a Guardian ad Litem be appointed to represent the child at issue in the proceedings and to make a recommendation as to whether a modification is in the best interests of the child. The court will then conduct a trial at which both parties will be able to present evidence and hear from the Guardian ad Litem. After reviewing the evidence, the court will make a decision about whether to amend the order or not.Contact a Knowledgeable Lawyer in the Milwaukee Area to Discuss Your Needs
When a stipulation is not possible, amending an existing court order can be similar in complexity to the original proceedings that created an order, and it is often best navigated with the assistance of an attorney. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee attorney Terese J. Singer can facilitate the negotiation of a stipulation with your former partner, help you prepare for lengthy court proceedings if required, and even coordinate with a Guardian ad Litem if they are added to the case. We represent people who need assistance with many complex divorce matters in Milwaukee, Port Washington, West Bend, Racine, Waukesha, and other areas of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha Counties. Contact our office for more information at (414) 271-6400 or online.