Modifying existing divorce orders

On Behalf of | Nov 7, 2023 | Family Law |

While divorce decrees are binding, they are not set in stone; divorced spouses can pursue a modification of an existing divorce order under certain circumstances.

But here’s the catch: the spouse seeking a divorce degree modification must demonstrate substantial changes in circumstances since the entry of the original divorce agreement.

What changes are considered significant enough to warrant a modification?

Life can be unpredictable, and the terms of a divorce settlement that once worked may no longer be feasible due to significant changes. These changes could include:

  • Financial instability: A significant change in income or job loss can make meeting financial obligations outlined in the original divorce order challenging.
  • Custody issues: As children grow and circumstances change, modifications to child custody and visitation agreements may be necessary.
  • Relocation: If one party relocates, it can necessitate alterations in custody, visitation and even spousal support arrangements.
  • Health issues: Serious health conditions or disabilities can impact one’s ability to meet the terms of the original agreement.

Once the angry feelings of divorce have gone, many parents realize that their custody and visitation arrangements could use a few tweaks. When it comes to child custody and visitation arrangements, courts prioritize the best interests of the child. Modifications may be mutually agreed upon at any time. Litigated concerns may be considered when:

  • One parent wants to relocate, making the original visitation schedule impractical.
  • There is a significant change in a parent’s life, such as addiction or criminal behavior, which could impact the child’s well-being.
  • The child’s needs and preferences change as they grow.

Other than that, divorced couples can also request to modify an existing alimony agreement. Altering spousal support agreements can be challenging but may be necessary due to a significant change in the movant’s financial situation or if the receiving spouse remarries or starts cohabitating with a new partner.

Lastly, child support agreements can potentially be modified if there is a change in either parent’s income or the child’s needs, such as medical expenses or educational costs.

Modifications of existing divorce orders are a necessary part of family law, allowing individuals to adapt to the changing circumstances of life. Understanding the types of modifications available and the legal process involved is crucial. Whichever the changes, consulting a qualified legal professional to guide you through the process will be important, due to the consequential and complex nature of the situation at hand.