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Modifying a Divorce Order

File a motion to make a change to a court order in your divorce. 

Filing a Motion:

If you need to change or enforce the court order in your divorce, you must file a motion with the same court that issued the court order. A motion is a written request asking the court to change something in the order or make the other party comply with the terms of the order.

Common reasons to file a motion include:

  • to increase or decrease child support payments
  • to increase or decrease alimony or spousal support payments
  • to change the custody arrangements of a minor child
  • to change the visitation/parenting time arrangements
  • to relocate children to another state
  • to emancipate a child, which ends child support obligation
  • to get reimbursement of medical expenses
  • to “enforce litigant’s rights,” (tell the court that the other party is not complying with the order and ask the court to make the party do so)

How to Ask the Court to Change or Enforce an Order in Your Case

The kit has several forms that you must fill out and file with the court.

You will also have to send a copy of everything you file to your ex-spouse.

Important Note: There are very specific time frames for selecting a motion date, for filing and for getting the motion papers to your ex-spouse—contact the family division in the county where you are filing to make sure you understand and meet these deadlines.

7 Steps to file a motion to change or enforce an order in your divorce case

  • Complete all of the forms in the kit.
  • Choose a motion date. Contact the Family Division where your divorce was granted and ask for a motion date at least one month away.
  • Make 3 copies of all of the forms, and 5 copies of the proposed order. Keep one copy for yourself in a safe place. If Probation Services monitors child support in your case, make an extra copy of all of the forms.
  • Redact, or black out, the personal identifiers on the copies you will submit to the court.
  • Attach the $50 filing fee.
  • Upload the documents into the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system. You can pay the fee with a credit card. You can upload the fee waiver request form if needed . You also can mail the originals plus two copies of all of the documents, plus the fee, to the Family Division of the Superior Court where your divorce was granted.
  • Mail or deliver one copy of all of the documents to your ex-spouse. They must receive the papers at least 24 days before the motion date you have selected.

Responding to a Motion:

If you have received papers stating that your ex-spouse has filed a motion with the court, you can respond by preparing and filing a Certification within the appropriate timeframe. You can use the Certification form in this packet and attach any documents that you believe will support what you state in the form.

Filing a Cross-Motion:

You can also use this packet to file a cross-motion, meaning you are asking the court to take action on your behalf, in addition to opposing whatever the other party has asked for.

You must file your Certification (and Cross-Motion if you are filing one) with the court and send or deliver a full copy to your ex-spouse no later than 15 days prior to the motion date.

If you filed a Cross-Motion as well as a response to the original motion, your ex-spouse can respond in writing to the information in your Cross-Motion no later than 8 days prior to the motion date.

Outcome of a Motion:

A motion date is not a trial. There might not be an actual court hearing on the motion date. Most motions are decided “on the papers.” The judge reviews the arguments and proofs each person has provided and decides the motion on that basis.

Both the person filing the motion and the person responding to it can request "oral argument" in their motion papers. This means that they are asking for an actual court hearing with the judge, so they can be heard in person. However, it is up to the judge to decide if this will be necessary.

Even if oral argument is granted and there is an actual hearing, a decision on the motion may not occur on that same day. In some cases, it may take weeks or longer to receive the written order stating the judge’s decision. When the motion is decided, each person will receive a copy of the signed order that states the decision on each request made in the motion.