Although we say a divorce is “finalized,” people can petition the court to modify the terms of a divorce decree after its issuance. This is known as a post-divorce modification. In most cases, these modifications are proposed when significant life events occur that make adhering to the current terms of a divorce decree either exceedingly difficult or impossible.
While some ex-spouses may attempt informal arrangements to address these challenges, this can generate liability problems for either party – especially if cordial relations break down. Even if you and your ex have been operating on an informal child custody arrangement, either of you could invoke the official decree’s terms at any time.
Although the last thing you probably want to do is go back to the courtroom months or years after your divorce settled, doing so to get a modification can lead to a brighter and more secure future.
What Is a Post-Divorce Modification?
A post-divorce modification is any proposed change to the terms of a divorce decree brought to a judge by either one or both ex-spouses. Divorce modifications can address almost any aspect of the divorce decree, but the most common reasons include alimony, child custody, child support, and visitation.
Either party can petition the court for a modification. So, if a spouse received alimony but gets remarried, the spouse paying alimony can file a modification to cancel the alimony order. If a non-custodial spouse paying child support gets a significant raise or promotion at work, the custodial spouse can file a petition to increase the amount of child support.
How Do I Qualify for a Post-Divorce Modification?
Generally speaking, the only requirement for a post-divorce modification is a permanent and material change that necessitates the modification. That said, there are a few guidelines as to what that entails.
A few events that can qualify for a post-divorce modification include the following:
- An ex-spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation with a partner
- A parent moving a significant distance away from the other
- A significant increase or decline in income (15% or greater)
- An unavoidable increase in health insurance or healthcare costs for either ex-spouse or their children
Other significant events may present the circumstances necessary for a judge to consider a modification to your divorce. Consult with an experienced family lawyer to learn more about options that may be available in your unique situation.
How Do I Get a Post-Divorce Modification?
If you are seeking a post-divorce modification for any reason, the first step is to secure the representation of a family law attorney you trust. Your legal advocate will walk you through this process.
If you and your ex-spouse are seeking a modification together, you can file a petition together. Even if you agree on every aspect of the modification, however, there’s no guarantee the judge will grant your request. This is why having legal counsel supporting your petition is so important – assistance from an experienced lawyer like ours at Beatriz Zyne, P.A. can help you increase your odds of success.
To learn more about post-divorce modifications or to inquire about our legal services, contact Beatriz Zyne, P.A. online now.