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Introduction

Do I need to modify (change) or enforce a Parental Rights and Responsibilities or Divorce order?

If you are trying to modify (change) or enforce a final order from a Parental Rights and Responsibilities or Divorce case, you might find some helpful information here. This guide can help you if you:

  • Have a final divorce order and you have children with the other person
  • Have a final parental rights and responsibilities order

And you:

  • Need to modify (change) that order, or you
  • Need to enforce that order.

Why would I need to modify (change) an order?

You might need to modify—or change—an order if there has been a change of circumstances. This means that things in your life or your children’s lives have changed, and because of those changes, the final order you got from the court does not work anymore. You can ask to modify almost any part of the final order based on the changes in your life, but there are special rules for child support and you will probably not be able to change the part of a divorce order that splits up property or possessions.

Why would I need to enforce an order?

You might need to enforce an order if the other person involved in the order is not following the order and you need the court’s help to force the other person to follow the order. You can file to enforce any part of the final order.

What if I have a final divorce order and I need to modify or enforce it, but I do not have children with the other person?

You should still read the tips on this page. Even if you do not have children, you can modify (change) some parts of the spousal support part of your divorce order, or you can file a motion to enforce your divorce order if the other person is not following the order. Some of the information here will help you do that. Follow the same steps for filling out and serving the forms. A Judge (not a Family Law Magistrate) will decide what steps to take in your case, and the Court will tell you when you need to come to court.

Should I Get a Lawyer?

A family law matter is serious and the results could affect your family for many years. You should try to get help from a lawyer if you can. But we know that there are not enough free lawyers to help everyone who can't afford one.

If you can't get a lawyer, this guide, along with the forms you get from the Court, will help you get started. If you file either a Motion to Enforce or a Motion to Modify and you have children with the other person, a Family Law Magistrate will try to help you and the other party through the process, before you see a Judge. Even so, you must prepare your paperwork and court case carefully.

If you need more help with filling out the forms or have other questions about your court case, you may be able to get help from a Courthouse Assistance Project run by the Volunteer Lawyers Project. The Volunteer Lawyers Project sends lawyers to courts around Maine to give quick advice on family law matters and to help people fill out forms. You can see their schedule here.

If you need more help with:

  • Getting food or shelter
  • Paying for medical care
  • Getting benefits, like TANF
  • Escaping domestic violence
  • Other legal issues

Call Pine Tree Legal Assistance

How this guide works

We've set up this classroom to follow the most common paths for modifying (changing) or enforcing your divorce or parental rights and responsibilities orders in Maine. The numbered steps are in the order you will need to complete them. We've created this classroom so you can walk through a process step-by-step and keep track of your progress. The general topics are numbered on the left side of your screen.

  • Click on the name of the step you want to visit OR use the “next” and “previous” buttons at the bottom of each page to go between sections of the guide.
  • Click the gray checkmark next to each step when you’re done. It will turn green. When you come back, you can pick up where you left off.

OR read through the steps without checking them off just to learn more about the process. If you check something off by mistake, just click on the checkmark again to un-check it.

Note: Not all courts follow the same steps in the same order, but in this classroom we lay out the most general, basic steps that each case must go through. You should talk with the court clerk in the court where your case will be heard to find out how that court usually handles these cases.

Updated August, 2017

PTLA #323