Enforcement and Modification of Orders in Oklahoma
Modifying the Decree
Life is not static. The law recognizes that changes can happen in the future. Modification of orders relating to children (custody, visitation, support) is possible, subject to certain standards. Child support can be modified due to a change in child care or medical costs, or one parent’s change in income.
Visitation can be modified based upon the child’s age, the child’s preference, or a change in a parent’s residence.
Modification of orders relating to assets and debts is generally not possible, unless fraud occurred. Fraud is difficult to prove. Financial support (support alimony) can be modified or terminated only under a specific set of circumstances. The difficulty of modifying the Decree as to property and financial support makes it all the more important for you to have complete, accurate information in your original divorce case.
What happens when a former spouse refuses to abide by the terms of the Decree? Depending on the issue and the type of Decree, you can file an application for contempt or a motion to enforce the Decree. Generally, the judge who issued the original order will hear and rule on the enforcement case. Depending on the specific order, there are time limitations to file each enforcement mechanism.
When the Final Order Ends
The judge eventually loses the authority to enforce or change your Decree or Post-Decree Order. Custody jurisdiction terminates on your child’s 18th birthday. Child support jurisdiction potentially terminates later — either your child’s 20th birthday or graduation from high school, whichever is earlier. The judge loses the authority to rule on a contempt application relating to child support or access to a child once your child reaches 18 years old, even if the application was filed before then. You generally have five years to enforce orders relating to assets and liabilities. Child support arrearages continue to be an enforceable judgment until they are paid in full. However, a child support lien on real property must be renewed every five years to remain effective.