In many divorces, extensive negotiations or even battles in court precede an arrangement regarding child custody and post-separation finances. But, no one can predict the future; as time passes and things change, it is not uncommon for a former spouse to begin to feel like he or she got a bad deal. Fortunately, there are safeguards built into divorce law that allow for the modification of settlement agreements or court orders when the former couples’ situation changes.
Grounds for Modification
Any modification to a divorce decree has to be approved by a court to be legally enforceable. Judges will examine any changes to a former couple’s circumstances to determine whether a modification is warranted.
Typically, modification requests center around child custody issues or support obligations (either child support or spousal support). As such, factors that influence these considerations, such as moving, large fluctuations in income, major health problems, and unexpected expenses must be shown to represent a material and substantial change in circumstances in order to obtain a decree modification.
Modifications can increase or decrease financial obligations, and be requested by either party. For instance, if the non-custodial parent lost his or her job, that parent may be justified in asking for a reduction in child support payments. Conversely, if the non-custodial parent got a raise and began making significantly more, his or her ex-partner could ask a court to increase support amounts.
Update Decree Terms to Accommodate Life Changes
Perhaps your former spouse took a new job and no longer has the time to spend with the kids he or she once did. Maybe the visitation schedule set up during your divorce does not currently match your needs and the needs of your children as they have gotten older.
Whatever significant changes have occurred in your life, your children’s lives, or the life of your former spouse, your divorce decree should reflect the new situation. If you need to modify a divorce decree, contact an experienced divorce and family law attorney today.