1. What is a post-judgment motion?
In these hard times, many PSA agreements, final judgments, or court orders may need to be modified to accommodate the family’s needs of the parties and their children. Child support or alimony payments can always be reduced by filing a post-judgment motion. These motions are also referred to as Lepis motions. Moreover, some other types of post-judgment motions may include an adjustment to a parenting time schedule, a request to emancipate a child, or to compel the payment of college expenses.
A post-judgment motion is simply an application to the family court to change the terms of a final judgment of divorce or the terms of the property settlement agreement. In most cases a post-judgment motion is filed when one or both parties suffer a change in circumstances that make the prior PSA or judgment of divorce unfair or impossible to comply with. The most common reasons to justify filing a post-judgment motion include the loss of a job, severe illness, relocation or remarriage of the supported spouse, emancipation or entry into college of a child.
2. What are the most common types of post-judgment motions?
A. Enforcement applications
This is a very typical post-judgment application. In many instances the payor spouse racks up thousands of dollars in unpaid child support or alimony arrears. The payee spouse then has the legal right to file an enforcement application before the family court. An enforcement motion could request that the payor spouse be held in contempt for not complying with the court order(s), to pay the amount he or she has been ordered to pay, and also to pay all arrears within a reasonable time.
B. A request to increase or reduce support
Any alimony and child support awards can always be changed if the grounds in the Lepis motion are strong enough. If one party or another has suffered a change of circumstance that would justify an increase or decrease in the support award, then either party may file a motion to seek such relief. The moving party then has the legal burden to establish a threshold showing of a change in circumstance. This must be proven before the court will order any discovery or a financial disclosure from the other spouse. If there is a genuine dispute as to a material issue, then the court may order a plenary hearing.
C. Changes in Custody or Visitation
This type of post-judgment application can be a disaster. Custody cases are a great way to go bankrupt. Nonetheless, there are times when a change of custody may be necessary. Moreover, there is no other alternative but to file a post-judgment application to change or enforce a parenting plan.
D. To Effectuate the Equitable Distribution of a Pension or Retirement Account.
In many cases, the parties do not equitably distribute the retirement accounts or pensions within a reasonable time after the divorce is over. Dividing retirement accounts and pensions takes a significant amount of work, and it also can be very time consuming and expensive. Therefore, in many cases the parties don’t divide the retirement accounts and pensions until many years after the case is over with. Consequently, it is very common that the dependent spouse has to file a post-judgment motion to compel that the retirement accounts and the pensions be distributed by a QDRO.