Which judge handles a divorce modification depends on whether the case goes back to Supreme Court or goes back to family court. Generally speaking, if a custody or support matter is done in Supreme Court pursuant to a judgment of divorce, the judgment of divorce will say that family court has “concurrent jurisdiction” with Supreme Court, which means either court can hear a modification or an enforcement case. If modification or enforcement of custody or visitation is the only issue being brought, most of those issues go to the family court.
If there were intertwined issues of custody, visitation, and financial issues, such as an enforcement of asset distribution or some kind of child support or spousal maintenance, then you’re better off going to Supreme Court. If it’s just the one issue of custody or visitation, you’re better off going to family court because family court will handle those issues in a more expedited fashion. In Westchester County, we have a post-judgment part, where the original trial judge is not going to be your judge to do post-judgment modification or enforcement cases. Other counties don’t have a post-judgment part, so you’ll go back to the same judge who signed off on the judgment of divorce (unless that judge is no longer on the bench).
Should I Hire The Same Attorney That Handled My Divorce To Handle My Modification Or Can I Hire Your Firm As Well?
You do not have to have the same attorney for a modification. You can go with the same attorney, but you are not required to. A lot of times, parties get to the end of their divorce case and determine that the firm they hired to get them through the initial phase is not well set up to handle custody and visitation issues. Some attorneys handle many more divorce cases than family court cases, so they are well versed in financial issues and less well versed in custody and visitation issues, or vice versa.
Where Can The Modification Of A Divorce Be Filed? Does It Have To Be In The Same County Where The Divorce Was Finalized?
There was a modification of the statutes a few years ago to generally require all post-judgment filings be filed in the same county as the county that the judgment was originally issued. Indeed, that language has to go into the original judgment of divorce. It specifically states that any applications brought in Supreme Court or family court to either modify or enforce an order shall be brought in a county where the parties reside, except for good cause (which usually means an emergency situation). Once a judgment is issued in a particular county, that county retains jurisdiction unless both parties move out of that jurisdiction. If both parties move out, then it generally goes to whichever county the child and the custodial parent reside in.
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