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Modification and Enforcement of orders for child custody, child support, post-separation support, or alimony are quite common. Life following divorce is likely to be filled with transition. Because courts recognize the likelihood of change following the entry of such final orders, systems are in place for modifying orders and, when necessary, enforcing orders previously entered. Orders for equitable distribution are typically not modified later, but instead, stand as a final division of assets and debts. Likewise, agreements regarding the division of assets and debts which are set forth in Separation and Property Settlement Agreements are typically not modifiable by the Court. Both parties can have the assurance that the agreement fully and completely resolved their equitable distribution issues and these matters will not be further adjusted or addressed by the Court. Provisions regarding spousal support in Separation and Property Settlement Agreements can also be non-modifiable by the Court if the parties expressly state their desire in the Agreement that the Court not modify that issue.

Modifications of child custody, child support or spousal support orders are important matters. Even when divorced couples are able to work together to change the things that no longer fit with their family as those matters evolve, courts can only enforce orders they have entered and friendly modifications cannot be enforced. Courts utilize the term “substantial change in circumstances” when considering modifications to their final rulings. If parties are not able to come together to amicably resolve these issues, courts will require proof of substantial changes which warrant the modification. Evidence of such substantial changes for modifying child support could include:

  • substantial change in income such as job loss or disability
  • increase or decrease in earning potential due to education, injury, or illness
  • substantial change in the child’s expenses, i.e. medical needs, or the need for childcare has changed

For spousal support, evidence of substantial changes can include:

  • substantial change in income of either party such as job loss or disability
  • increase or decrease in earning potential due to education, injury, or illness
  • remarriage or cohabitation by the dependent spouse (typically terminates PSS or alimony)

Child Custody orders can also be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances affecting the welfare of the child/ren. Such changes can include the increased age of the children, a relocation by either parent, remarriage, the children’s wishes, changes in the children’s academic performance or mental health, or an event or circumstance that has occurred which has drastically changed the workability of the prior child custody arrangement.

If you are experiencing significant changes in circumstances following the entry of your child custody, child support, or alimony order, acquiring the advice and guidance of an experienced family law attorney is an important and prudent protective step. Likewise, if you have an agreement in which the child custody provisions or child support provisions are no longer workable or appropriate and a modification is needed or desired, Barri Payne is a Board Certified Specialist in Family Law who has the experience and expertise to guide you through all the considerations and options you may have.

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Enforcement of Court Orders or Separation Agreements

Even in the most thoroughly considered and negotiated divorces, and even when the spouses have agreed to the terms and have the best of intentions in that process, it is an unfortunate reality that sometimes people have to be forced to comply with orders regarding property settlement, support, and other obligations required of a court order or agreement.

When one party is repetitively recalcitrant or non-compliant, creating frustration and turmoil, the Courts in North Carolina will take necessary steps to ensure their orders are followed and enforced.

Barri Payne is an experienced family law attorney. She understands how frustrating it can be for clients to have to rehash the emotional issues of their divorce that almost always rise to the surface when compliance has to be forced. Barri is a tough and thorough advocate in these matters. She can discuss with you the possibility of filing motions for contempt or for specific performance of your Agreement. Set an appointment to find out how she can help ensure compliance with your final order or separation and property settlement agreement.

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Durham Family Law Specialist, Divorce & Family Law Attorney


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Whether you are starting or ending a marriage, enlarging or legitimizing your family, or appealing a family court ruling, you have found the assistance you need. Barri Payne can help you negotiate and commemorate your family law matters in a way that ensures the preservation of your relationships.  Connect with us today.


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Barri and Elizabeth went above and beyond to make me feel at ease and help me through some very tough family circumstances. In the end, all parties involved were happy with the results. They are amazing! I highly recommend them!!!!! Catherine

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Handled my divorce a decade ago and I’ve been referring people ever since. Brilliant, kind, reliable, trustworthy.

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Barri, Thank you for helping me through a very trying and difficult period. Your prompt and professional assistance was so very refreshing and very much appreciated. Elizabeth was also very helpful whenever I called or had any questions. Sincerely, KG

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“I am an attorney practicing since 1999. I chose Mrs. Payne to handle my separation and divorce proceedings and couldn’t be happier.” … “She was compassionate, empathetic, competent, and dependable. That is what I needed and she was right there. I highly recommend Ms. Payne for divorce proceedings.”


Avvo Review

Barri Payne was an excellent choice as my lawyer because she was most effective and thorough in getting the job done. Her confidence and knowledge was successful in helping me get through some formidable hurdles. I am very satisfied that Barri Payne was expedient, knowledgeable, compassionate and trustworthy while engaging in helping me solve my legal problem. I will be forever grateful!

August 10, 2017

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Barri is an experienced attorney who takes great care with her clients and their cases. She is a thoughtful and zealous advocate.

Martindale Peer Review

Barri has very good common sense and is pleasant to work with. She does a good job for her clients.

Avvo Review

“Barri was able to help me see the pros and cons of the situation and the possible paths to resolution.” … “She is the consummate professional, very knowledgeable, very responsive and communicative, and at the same time very compassionate and understanding. While my situation ended up in court, she is also very skilled at resolving things via mediation as well. If I could emphasize any further how grateful I am for Barri and how highly I would recommend her, I would rate 10 stars out of 5. Thank you.”


Martindale Peer Review

Outstanding lawyer and expert in all areas of family law.

Avvo Review

Barri and I entered into a situation that seemed pretty clear cut. Inevitably, challenges arose. But Barri had already prepared and expected all of them. She completely keeps her cool and defuses situations that are emotional and usually pretty charged. Barri is the consummate professional. I highly recommend Barri and I will definitely continue to go back to her for anything that comes up. She’s so well-respected and genuinely cares about her clients’ best interest.


Martindale Peer Review

Barri is a great attorney and super nice person, she is down to earth and reasonable which is incredibly important in handling Family Law matters.

Avvo Review

Barri helped me with a very difficult and lengthy case. I appreciated her ethics when things got sticky. She is extremely knowledgeable and always kept on top of the many details of the case. I can’t speak highly enough of her!


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