Modification or Enforcement of a Court Order in a Wisconsin Divorce

Can you change a court order in a divorce in Wisconsin?  If so, how is this done?  What if someone isn’t following court orders?  How can you enforce an order?

Orders regarding property division are permanent and generally cannot be changed unless you file a Motion to Reopen.  A waiver of maintenance at the time of the divorce judgment is also a final order and cannot be changed except upon extreme or unusual circumstances.

However, spousal support, child support, custody and placement (visitation) arrangements do not have to be permanent. They can be outdated, changed or violated. When this happens, individuals must ask the court to grant a modification or to enforce the decree.  You must do those by filing a Motion with the court.

The court will entertain a request for a modification of an order if, after a required period of time, there has been a substantial change in your life or the life of the other party that justifies altering the decree. Any of the following may qualify as a significant change:

-A substantial change in either spouse’s income or employment status

-A new health problem which impacts the ability to work

-Moving to a new location

-Substance abuse problems or criminal activity

The exception to this rule is for a period of two (2) years after an original custody or placement order, you must show that the current custody or placement arrangement is harmful to the child(ren).

If one party asks for a modification and the other party doesn’t agree, this dispute can be resolved through negotiation or through the courts.  At Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC, we always try to minimize conflict and are local leaders in using collaborative and cooperative techniques to resolve disputes.  However, we will also vigorously represent you in court whenever necessary.

If one party fails to pay child or spousal support or refuses to honor the custody and placement (visitation) order, the law provides a remedy through a finding of contempt.  Again, a Motion must be filed with the court. If the violation involves child or spousal support, the court can garnish wages or force the violator to pay in other ways.  Sometimes, the violator is sentenced to a jail term as well. The court also has broad discretion to come up with other, more creative solutions to force the violator to comply with the terms of the decree.

If a placement order is not being followed, you can file a Petition to Enforce Placement to force the other party to comply with the court order.  The court again has broad discretion to enforce a placement schedule, including awarding make-up time, changing the schedule or awarding attorneys fees and costs.

Returning to court is not an ideal option for anyone. However, there are remedies available to you in the event you need to modify or enforce a court order.  The attorneys at Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC can assist you with any of these options and advise you as to the likely or possible results so you can make an informed decision as to whether you want to return to court through a post-judgment action.  At Nelson, Krueger & Millenbach, LLC, we handle modifications, disputes and enforcement cases with compassion and diligence. Our lawyers are prompt, detail-oriented and persistent. For a free initial office consultation, contact us at (414) 258-1644.

10 thoughts on “Modification or Enforcement of a Court Order in a Wisconsin Divorce

  1. It is just two years since the divorce decree, which included a provision that we exchange some documents every year. The purpose was to give each other information to confirm that income equity is still in effect. My ex-spouse has not sent me one of these documents, which he received over three months ago. I sent him one reminder but he has not responded.

    There has been no lapse in maintenance payments.

    Could we amend the decree by mutual consent to eliminate the document exchange without exposing other elements of the decree to revision? Would such an amendment require a court action?

    • Thank you for your interest in our blog. There are two ways to handle this. First, he is in contempt of court for failing to provide these documents. You can pursue that in court and the court will order him to provide those. Second, you can amend but there may be very legitimate reasons why this provision was placed into your agreement and why you may not want to waive your right to this information. I can think of several. You should consult with an experienced divorce attorney in your area to discuss both of these options and which one is right for you. Good luck.

  2. my ex was ordered to pay $1,150 a month he has been doing it for 10 years without a problem and now suddenly stopped paying and also refuses to sign the quadro for his pension which is coming up in a year and a half he won’t come to court he’s a disabled Chicago police officer so he doesn’t pay taxes so there’s no tax intercept that can be done there’s no wage garnishment that can be done how can I get him to obey the court orders. He refuses the person that wants to send him the order to come to court . 9 times this process server tried serving him during my divorce . I can’t get him served. how could I what do I do if he refuses to be served.

    • I’m very confused as to your post and your questions. First, in terms of getting him served, this is sometimes a problem. You may have to hire a private investigator to dig further into his actions and whereabouts to get him served. Or, try a different process server. Some are better than others. Or, contact the Sheriff’s department in the county where he lives. Process service is one of their functions and you have the weight of law enforcement behind the service. Filing a contempt motion against him for failing to pay support is your only option.

      But, I am also confused about the QDRO situation. This should have been done LONG ago – at the time of your divorce! And, he doesn’t have to sign anything. It is a court order. Sometimes, however, there are unique plans, especially with government based plans (like for police officers). Every retirement plan has its own rules and procedures. Therefore, I would strongly urge you to contact an attorney to assist you in this. The division of pensions and QDRO’s are very complicated and you will very likely need legal assistance for this.

      • Thank you for your reply. He has since been served twice refused to come to court in Milwaukee Wisconsin twice the last time was January 9th 2017 when he was served for that proceeding he attacked the process servers and was charged with two charges of assault and he is a disabled Chicago police officer I still have not been getting paid the judge issued a warrant for his arrest I don’t have any means to find a lawyer in Illinois to take my divorce papers which has the court order that says I get 50% of his pension upon retirement and he retires September 13th of 2017 I need someone to guide me to a lawyer in Illinois for most phones with the kid with Dayquil Dro Illinois is it will draw the police department doesn’t do a QDR oh it’s a quildro. I guess they’re different and their paperwork has a spot where he is supposed to sign permission but if he refuses to do that isn’t there a way I can get a judge to inforce it ? Im just supposed to be out of luck , I’m afraid he’s going to seek getting his pension early and take the penalty and I won’t get a dime. I still don’t know what to do, if you could help me I would greatly appreciate it

  3. I was ordered to pay maintenance in August 2016 and I just learned that my ex-spouse has moved out of state without any notification to me or the court. The stipulation of maintenance was based upon that she was under doctors care and wasn’t working. It is my belief she has been released from doctor’s care and may in fact be working out of state. What options do I have to request a modification of maintenance based upon this?

    • Maintenance can always be modified based upon a “substantial change in circumstances”. Moving out of state does not qualify – she can move where she wants. However, if she is now working, that would be certainly a substantial change. You may need to do some investigation on this. You certainly would need to know where she is living since you would need to serve her with a motion if you decide to file same. Your best bet would be to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to find out what steps need to be taken and/or what your options are in this situation. If your case was in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee or Washington county, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case. We offer free initial consultations. If you are interested, please call us at 414-258-1644.

  4. court just ended, father given full custody, lied in court many times, had a questionable drug test,judge refused to hear evidence from mothers side, 5 days of court,judge said,(out loud) he made his decission on day 1 of court, never hearing from mother! She was stay a home mom, primary caregiver of 2 year old, child was happy and well cared for! mother broke up with father (never married) father quit his traveling job, all of a sudden she is not capable of raising her son! What can be done now that court is over? court order was on 6/17/2017

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s