After a divorce, you must usually live with the court’s decision. At this point, there’s no more arguing. You and your former spouse need to follow the rules of your agreement or the Court Order.
However, situations often arise when you need to modify or enforce the existing Order. Many of our clients ask can a divorce decree be modified? Our experienced team understands the ins and outs of modifying an existing order.
When Can I Modify the Provisions of My Divorce Agreement or Divorce Order?
To modify any part of a divorce agreement or Order, you need legitimate reasons that are clear and legally defensible. In other words, you cannot decide one day to modify your agreement out of emotion or spite toward your ex-spouse. Our team of experts can advise you on how to amend your divorce decree in the best possible manner.
Modifying Child or Spousal Support
You may be able to modify child or spousal support if the following occurs.
- A significant change in custody. If your children now live with you or moved out of your house, then a change in child support could occur.
- A significant change in income. If your income or the income of your ex-spouse significantly increases or decreases (typically by over 20%), a change in child or spousal support could occur. Many modifications in child or spousal support take place when a person is laid off or suffers an involuntary loss of income.
- A major circumstance that affects finances. If an event such as a serious illness or a natural disaster occurs that affects a parent’s finances, then child or spousal support may get revisited on a temporary or final basis.
While financial agreements (such as property division) are impossible to change after a divorce, courts will usually be open to changing child support, alimony, and other forms of spousal support if circumstances require it.
An attorney can help you:
- Enforce the terms of equitable division assets and debts contained in the final agreement or Order.
- Transfer interest in retirement plans (qualified domestic relations orders, or QDRO) and even adjusting QDROs if needed.
- Provide child support payments through income deduction orders (IDO).
- Make sure you are not overpaying, underpaying, or caught by any surprises on your taxes after your divorce.
Modifying Child Custody
Typically, it’s difficult to modify a child custody agreement within two years after your divorce is finalized unless you or your ex-spouse experience a significant change in circumstances.
If it has been at least two years or if either one of you have experienced a substantial change, then you may be able to modify child custody if:
- Your children are 11 or older. Your children usually have little say about child custody until they turn 11. Between 11 and 14, a child can ask to legally modify custody. After 14, a judge will go along with the child’s wishes so long as the modification is in the child’s best interest.
- Your children are struggling in school. Education is a large part of your child’s best interest. If your children are struggling in school as a result of parenting or poor schooling, then a judge may alter custody to improve your children’s educational circumstances.
- The custodial parent gets arrested. Getting arrested after a divorce is finalized jeopardizes a custodial parent’s ability to keep custody of his or her children.
- There are allegations of alcohol or drug use. Alleged alcohol and/or drug use signifies that a custodial parent may be unable to provide a safe, secure environment.
- Physical abuse occurs. A judge will often quickly remove children out of a physically abusive environment if there is clear proof.
- The custodial parent alienates the non-custodial parent. If a custodial parent intentionally fails to communicate, withholds the child, and prevents the other parent’s legal visitation from happening, then a judge may step in to alter custody.
- One or both parents move far away. If a parent moves a significant distance away, then a custody agreement may be revisited because of logistical reasons.
How Are The Rules of My Divorce Agreement or Order Enforced?
A divorce agreement or Order isn’t like a marriage agreement. It’s a serious, binding legal Order. If you or your ex-spouse do not follow it, you will be in contempt of court, which can mean fines or even jail time.
In some cases, enforcing child support can become difficult and complex—especially when parents live in different states or one parent has moved around a lot. Some contempt orders can take years to resolve when tracking a parent down. In many cases, an ex-spouse will fail to pay child support. To collect owed child support, you will need to work with an attorney and the courts to find your ex-spouse in contempt and force him or her to pay you.
If you are the parent paying child support, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Even if you filed for a child support modification, you still need to pay your current child support obligations up until the time the court makes a decision.
- Don’t let emotion or anger prevent you from paying. Put your children first.
- Waiting for a contempt order may lead to fines or jail time. If you know you’re having financial trouble or an issue why you can’t (or won’t) pay, then be proactive with your ex-spouse and work out a solution.
- Your income doesn’t matter. If you have the money in your savings to pay, then you have to pay.
How Can An Attorney Help Me Modify or Enforce Agreements and Orders?
If you have questions about modifying or enforcing your agreement or Court Order after your divorce, come see us for a consultation or call us today at (678) 971-3413. Once we understand your circumstances, we’ll help you make the best decision for you and your family.
Can you file a motion to change a divorce decree? Can a divorce decree be reversed? Here’s what you need to know about divorce modifications.
Love doesn’t last forever, but sometimes your relationship with your ex feels like it does. After divorce, many couples must still communicate over issues like raising children, paying alimony and child support, and other shared obligations.
A divorce agreement is a contract that holds well after the time you are legally separated. However, as circumstances change over time, you may have the need to amend your agreement. You may even reconcile with your ex, and desire to reverse the divorce entirely.
Here is a list of questions to think about if you are wondering “can a divorce decree be reversed?” or considering other changes to your legal contract.
1. Can a Divorce Decree Be Invalidated?
Divorce is a disruptive, emotionally turbulent time. Many people agree to terms that they later regret.
Some may realize months or even years later that their alimony is woefully inadequate or that the custody arrangement is unfair.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to completely invalidate a divorce agreement. To do so, you would have to prove that your ex was guilty of fraud, or hid assets during the proceedings.
Making poor decisions does not allow you to invalidate the agreement. However, you can change the agreement if you can establish changed conditions like higher costs of living or a child’s special needs.
2. Can a Divorce Decree Be Reversed?
Between ten to fifteen percent of all divorced couples reconcile. Can they wipe out the years of rancor and the painstaking legal proceedings by wiping the slate clean?
Most of the time you will not be allowed to reverse a divorce decree to go back as if it never happened. Because many states encourage separation before divorce, you can take your time before proceeding to the final decree. If you separate and change your minds, you can easily vacate the separation agreement.
A divorce, on the other hand, declares a marriage to be “irretrievably broken.” If you are legally divorced and decide to get back together, you have to go through the legal process of marriage all over again.
3. Can We Change the Amount of Alimony?
However, you can petition the court to change the amount of alimony you pay or receive. You must establish that things have changed since the initial agreement. For example, as children get older, their needs become more costly: sports, transportation, college.
Your personal circumstances may also have changed. If you lose your job, you can ask the court to lower your financial obligations to your spouse. It would not do your kids any good to drive you into bankruptcy.
On the other hand, if you suddenly secure a higher paying job, your ex may request that you increase your payments. Your children can expect the same raise in the standard of living that you enjoy.
4. Can We Change Custody Terms?
Custody is another term that can be modified as circumstances dictate. For example, if one parent becomes incapacitated and is unable to take care of the child, the other parent may petition for full custody.
Sometimes custody becomes an issue when one parent desires to move out of state. If the person with primary custody wants to move far away from someone with visitation rights, they may be required to prove they have no other employment opportunities at all in their current state. They will have a tough burden to prove that moving a child far away from the other parent is necessary and that there are no alternatives.
The standard is always what is in the best interests of the child? Frequent changes of custody are considered disruptive and will not be looked at favorably by a judge. However, issues like abuse, alcoholism, or neglect may compel a court to change the custody agreement immediately.
If a parent ignores the legal process for custodial arrangements, they may lose their rights. This may happen if parent skips visitations, asks for changes without notice, or makes trouble with the ex-spouse during pick-ups or drop-offs.
5. Can We Settle Things Ourselves?
Every time you want to amend your agreement, you need to ask a judge to sign off on it. After spending lots of money on legal fees to get divorced, you may be reluctant to spend more money on changing the agreement a few years later.
It may be tempting to be flexible with one another. You may agree to let your ex pay alimony late one month after getting laid off. You may agree to Sunday nights instead of Saturday nights for visitation because it just seems easier.
However, without a binding legal agreement, you cannot enforce these changes if a dispute arises. What if the lower payments continue for months, or disappear altogether? If you go back to court, the judge may think you acquiesced to the lower payments and relinquished your right to enforce the agreement.
Relationships between formerly married people can change dramatically. However, legal contracts are harder to change. A matrimonial lawyer can protect you from making emotional decisions that may hurt you and your family down the road.
Additionally, a family lawyer can calculate the amount that the state deems appropriate for alimony and child support for a family in your situation. They can take into account eventualities you might never even consider!
They must also put your interests first. Often, when a couple tries to work things out on their own, one party may end up compromising and making decisions that are not in their own best interests. By retaining an attorney, you will have someone who can advocate for you,
Divorce Decrees Over Time: Adjusting to Changed Circumstances
Whether your questions include “can a divorce decree be reversed?” or “Can I reduce my alimony payments?” it is always advisable to obtain professional legal advice.
As time goes on, things may change drastically when it comes to your salary, childcare costs, and other expenses. You may even get back together with your ex. No matter what, an attorney can help you protect your assets and your children, no matter what unpredictable events come your way.
Call (402) 415-2525 for more information on matters pertaining to divorce, alimony, and child custody.
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How to Modify a Divorce Decree Divorce Form
Life is full of changes, and it’s possible to change a divorce order to help you cope with those changes. Divorce modification is the legal process of amending a divorce order issued by a court. A final divorce decree will specify rights and obligations regarding child custody and visitation, as well as spousal support, division of property, and other matters. A petition to amend a divorce decree can be filed for modifying any of the rights and obligations specified in the divorce decree.
Legal action to modify or amend a divorce decree is initiated by filing a petition for modification of the original divorce decree with the court. Other forms that may be filed along with the modification petition include a financial or other affidavit, verification of Social Security Number, and child support guidelines worksheet.
A petition to modify a divorce decree is governed by state statutes and local court rules. Each state has its own procedures and rules for every step of the divorce process. Laws and regulations on divorce modification also vary by state.
Modification of Child Support Modification Alimony
An order of child support can typically be modified if there is a significant and enduring change in conditions that would result in more than a ten percent rise or fall in the total child support payment ordered. Parties filing a petition for modification of child support must prove a considerable change of circumstances that would uphold such a modification. Generally, a child support order is modified when the income of the parties or expenses, such as, health insurance charges or day care charges, have changed over the years.
Modification of Spousal Support or Alimony Amend Divorce
Spousal support is the money paid to a spouse for the support and sustenance of the spouse. Generally, spousal support also includes money payable to a former spouse or to a third party for the support and sustenance of a spouse or a former spouse. A spousal support order can be modified with regard to the duration of payments or spousal support amount. A spousal support modification petition can be filed only if there are considerable changes in circumstances.
Modification of Child Custody Modification Child Support
Modification of custody is a petition given to amend the provisions of a child custody agreement. One or both parents can demand a custody modification. The terms of modification of child custody can be agreed upon by the parties in a written stipulation and forwarded to the court for authorization. Modifications to child custody orders must be granted by a judge to be legally valid. A custody modification agreement will be ordered only if the judge determines it to be in the best interests of the child.
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The law recognizes that life has a way of changing over an extended period of time, so divorce courts normally retain jurisdiction — the right to make rulings — over custody and child support terms of a divorce decree. You can go back and amend these terms whenever you have grounds. However, you may or may not be able to amend provisions relating to property division or alimony orders.
Modifying Custody Terms
You can amend the custody terms of your decree until your children reach the age of majority. This requires filing a motion for modification with the court that issued your original divorce decree. You may have to participate in mediation first, trying to resolve the change on your own with the help of a neutral third party before the court will schedule a hearing. Courts won’t modify parenting time unless you can establish a significant change of circumstance — something has occurred since your divorce decree that makes the current arrangement no longer in the best interests of your children. If you and your ex agree that your parenting plan should be amended, you can submit the written agreement to the court and the judge will sign off on it. The new order supersedes the custody terms in your decree.
Modifying Support Orders
Your ability to amend alimony terms in your decree depends on the language in the document. Some decrees state that alimony isn’t modifiable under any circumstances, while others may set out exact reasons why it might be changed or terminated. Amending child support usually requires a significant change of circumstances just as changing your parenting plan does, such as one parent is now earning significantly less or more than he did at the time of your divorce. Cost-of-living adjustments to child support are typically automatic — the judge will tweak the amount by a small percentage based on the current Consumer Price Index or some other barometer. Parents can also amend child support terms by agreement, submitting it to the court for approval, but the amount must be close to what it would be based on your state’s method of calculation. Courts generally won’t allow you to shortchange your kids by agreeing to a minimal amount of support far lower than state guidelines.
Amending Property Division
You typically can’t go back and change the property terms of your decree, but some exceptions do exist. Depending on your state’s laws, you may be able to reopen your divorce case to address property issues if you can prove that your spouse committed fraud, either lying to you or to the judge about a fact that is integral to the proceedings. Otherwise, your decree’s property terms are enforceable, but not modifiable. For example, if you agree — or the judge orders — that your spouse is to receive the marital home subject to refinancing it and buying out your interest, and if she doesn’t refinance, you can’t go back to court and demand that the judge give you the house instead. But you can file a motion with the court obligating her to move forward with the refinance or be held in contempt of court or subject to some other penalty.
The Appellate Process
In some cases, terms of your decree might be so egregiously unfair that you’d want to appeal it. Filing an appeal moves your case out of family court and puts it in the appellate court. You can’t appeal simply because you don’t like terms the judge ordered. You must have a specific legal basis, such as the judge misinterpreted the facts of your case or inappropriately applied the law. Appeals are very difficult to prove and win, so you’ll probably need the help of an attorney.
Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated September 19, 2018
After a divorce becomes final — whether through settlement agreement or after a court decision — either spouse may still have an opportunity to challenge certain decisions made by the court. One or both spouses can seek to appeal or modify their divorce decree. The following is an overview of the appeals and modification processes.
Appealing Your Divorce Judgment
Once the divorce is completed and a judgment entered, either or both spouses can appeal a trial court judge’s decision to a higher (“appellate” or “appeals”) court. Because of the deference given to the original judge, it is unusual, but not impossible, for an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision in a divorce case. Settlement agreements usually cannot be overturned on appeal if both spouses agreed to the terms of the settlement, unless there were problems with how the agreement was reached or other enforceability issues.
Notice of Appeal
An appeal is limited to some significant error that occurred during trial. If you believe there was an error of fact or law or an abuse of discretion by the judge, then the appellate process begins with a notice of appeal to the other side. There are strict procedures and deadlines about filing and serving such a notice. Failure to follow your state and county procedures could result in losing your right to an appeal.
The Record on Appeal
Once the notice of appeal has been filed with the court and served on all parties, the Record on Appeal must be prepared. The Record consists of the court reporter’s trial transcript and the clerk’s record.
The clerk’s record is all of the documents, papers, pleadings, and other written material that were filed with the court, plus any exhibits and documents that were introduced at trial.
The court reporter’s transcript is a typewritten booklet that contains everything that was said in court in the presence of a court reporter. Typically, all of the testimony by witnesses, attorney arguments, and statements by the judge or parties.
The Appellate Brief
The main form of argument on appeal is the written appellate “brief,” filed by counsel for each party. A brief is a document containing a legal argument, supported with reference to applicable case law, statutes, the reporter’s transcript, and documents in the clerk’s record. The lawyers for the parties submit their briefs to the appeals court and they may be granted the opportunity to make oral arguments.
If an oral argument is granted, it will typically be for no more than 15 or 30 minutes for each side to present its argument. No witnesses will be presented and no new evidence will be considered.
The Appellate Decision
Once the appellate court has the Record on Appeal, the Appellate Brief, and has taken any oral argument that it desires, it will make a ruling. The time varies from state to state, but thirty to sixty days after the court has a complete record is typical for a decision to be reached.
The appellate decision most likely will uphold the trial court’s decision. However, if they don’t do so, the case will be sent back to the trial court to either modify the decision or to conduct a new trial.
Motions to Modify the Divorce Decree
The appeals process is expensive and may not provide the results you are seeking. However, a modification is far less expensive and is the best way to change certain aspects of the divorce decree — including property division, spousal support (alimony), child support, child custody arrangements, and visitation.
A request for a change is made by filing a “motion to modify” the divorce decree or judgment. This motion is usually filed with the same court where the divorce judgment was issued. Many states provide forms, check with your local state and county courts to see if they are available.
When drafting your motion to modify you must demonstrate changed circumstances that make a change warranted. For instance, loss of a job or a promotion can be grounds for modifying spousal or child support. Each state has its own rules about the modification process and the proof that is necessary for the modification to succeed.
Modifying child custody can be done, but it is difficult. Courts assume that the original custody arrangements were correct and they are reluctant to make custody changes. However, they will if it is in the best interest of the child and there are changed circumstance that make a change necessary.
Once the petition for modification has been completed, it will need to be filed with the court and served on your spouse. The court will schedule a hearing date and you will be able to present your argument. If you and your spouse agree that a modification is necessary, you should attach their agreement to your petition and the court may make the modification without a court appearance.
Need Help with an Appeal or Modification? Get Results with an Attorney
Appeals and modifications have specific requirements and filing deadlines. A skilled divorce attorney in your state will know how to handle these matters and also provide you with important advice on how to proceed with your divorce decree. Start the process now by getting in touch with an experienced divorce attorney in your area.
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Description Modify Divorce Texas
Once a Texas court assumes authority over the best interest of a child, that court retains the right to make any future decision about the child until another court acquires the right to make such decisions. The court can change or modify the current child support order if the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed. Texas courts have identified several events that amount to a material and substantial change. Marriage to another person can be a material and substantial change. A change in residence, age, medical condition, employment, criminal history or the relationship between the parents making the current orders unworkable can be found by the court to be a material and substantial change.
How To Fill Out Need To Modify A Divorce Decree In Tarrant County ?
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When your divorce court finally established your official divorce decree, you might not have been too happy with its terms. You might have thought that it could be a good idea to move to a different state and have your new state’s courts modify the order so that you can get a greater share of time with the kids. However, there are a few things you should know before you make the move.
Every state in the United States, including New Jersey, has adopted a statute called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). The purpose of this statute is to make sure that states are upholding divorce decrees that other states’ courts have established.
In other words, if you get divorced in New Jersey and then move to Pennsylvania, any Pennsylvania court you go to will enforce your New Jersey decree, and can’t modify it. This is because, under the Act, the New Jersey court maintains jurisdiction over your divorce and child custody case, except in a few special circumstances.
If both parents and the children no longer live in the state where the divorce occurred, and they have no contacts with the state, then a new state can gain jurisdiction over the case.
In other words, even if you bring your kids with you to Pennsylvania, New Jersey will retain jurisdiction while your ex-spouse lives there, and while the kids still return there for visits. However, if your ex-spouse leaves New Jersey, then you’d stand a better chance of getting another state’s court to gain jurisdiction.
The UCCJEA serves an important function. It exists to discourage parents from absconding with their children and taking them to other states to get a modification to their divorce decree. It’s important that you know how the statute works before you plan a move.
It may seem simple but I’m asking how to go about making a formal application to amend a Petition that I put in to the court.
Briefly, the scenario is that I filed papers for a divorce and named a third party in part 6 of the Petition.
In Part 5 (the facts) I ticked 3 boxes: marriage broken down irretrievably; respondent has committed adultery; the parties have lived apart at least 5 years.
I got a letter back stating that the DJ is not satisfied that the Petitioner is entitled to the decree
sought, because: I had named a third party and the Petition had to be amended and served on the third party who must be made co-respondent if she is to be named.
I wrote back and said that I would remove the name to simplify things and actually rewrote the petition without the name.
Court wrote back saying they were still not satisfied and I would have to make a formal application to amend the petition which, if granted, must be re-served on the respondent who then has to file another Acknowledgement of Service.
Also said I had not put in a formal application for Directions for trial.
I’m a little confused because I thought by removing the name it would have made things simpler and certainly for the respondent who preferred not to have the name of the co-respondent in there anyway. I can’t see how the DJ can say that i’m not entitled to the decree i’m seeking because i’v removed a name especially when the paperwork shows that the respondent is admitting adultery and also that he is not contesting anything.
Also, what is this ‘directions for trial’ thing? Nobody is contesting here, why should there be a trial? Am I missing something?
Appreciate your advice and clarification on the steps to making a formal application to amend the petition anyway. is there a special form or do i just write to the court or what? I rang the court but they weren”t very helpful