Changing or Enforcing a Final Order in a Family Matters Case

After a final order has been entered in a Divorce case or Parental Rights and Responsibilities (unmarried persons) case, you may want or need to ask the court to change (modify) the order, or help enforce it.

This page explains when and what information is needed to file one of three common “post- judgment motions” in family matters cases.

1. Motion to Modify

Maine law requires that there be a “substantial change in circumstances” in order to change or modify an order for parental rights and responsibilities or divorce.

Many things could result in a change in your family’s circumstances since the court issued the order. Examples include a change in financial circumstances, or the relocation of one of the parents that would disrupt the parent-child contact schedule.

Unless you and the other party can agree on a modified order, the court will decide whether to grant the motion to modify based on the specific facts of your case.

You will need the following forms for a Motion to Modify:

See also Motion to Modify: What to do with these Court Forms (FM-088).

Modifying a Child Support Order

You may request to change a Child Support Order if a change in your or your child’s other parent’s income would increase or decrease the amount of child support by 15%.

Alternatively, if it has been at least three (3) years since the Child Support Order was issued, you may ask the court to review the order without having to show a “substantial change in circumstances.”

There is no filing fee for a motion to modify only child support. Motions that raise other issues in addition to child support require a filing fee.

For more information on modifying a child support order, please visit the Child Support page.

Modifying a Divorce Judgment or Order

Generally, you may not modify a divorce judgment as it relates to property division, but may do so for other issues. For more information on the division of assets and debts in a divorce matter, please visit the Dividing Assets and Debts in a Divorce page.

2. Motion to Enforce

You may file a Motion to Enforce if the other party is not following the court’s order. The court may refer you and the other party to mediation to try and resolve the issue, or it may hold a contested hearing.

You will need the following forms for a Motion to Enforce:

See also: Motion to Enforce: What to do with these Court Forms (FM-089).

3. Motion for Contempt

A Motion for Contempt is a more serious alternative to a Motion to Enforce and is more difficult to prove. In order to prove that someone is in contempt, you must show the court by clear and convincing evidence that the other party:

  • Is not following the court’s order;
  • That the party has the ability to do so; and
  • Is intentionally not doing so.

A Motion for Contempt will be scheduled for a hearing in front of a judge. If, after the hearing, the court finds contempt, it may use different remedies, up to and including jail time, to get the other party to follow the court order.

You will need the following forms for a Motion for Contempt:

Please note: Motions for Contempt have a different procedure than other post-judgment motions. Carefully follow the instructions in the Motion for Contempt: What to do with these Court Forms (FM-090) instruction sheet.

Mediation

The court may refer you and the other party to mediation to try and resolve the issues presented in your Motion to Enforce or Motion to Modify, or it may hold a contested hearing.

Mediation is an informal process in which a specially-trained person appointed by the court (the mediator) listens to both sides and helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable decision. The mediator does not take sides or decide who is right.

Registration of a Foreign Order

If you were divorced in another state, or another state issued a custody order regarding your children, you can “register” that order in Maine. Maine courts may be able to modify or enforce another state’s order after you register it.

To register a foreign order in Maine, you will need:

See also: Foreign Judgments: What to do with these Court Forms (FM-093).

It does not cost anything to register a foreign judgment.

Court Process

For more information on the court procedure in divorce or parental rights & responsibilities cases, including the procedure to file a post-judgment motion, see Court Process in a Family Matters Case.

Additional Resources

Pine Tree Legal Assistance, How to: Change or Enforce Your Maine Divorce or Parental Rights Order page.