Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful, time-consuming, and frustrating, especially if some of your negotiations do not go as you had hoped. As you fight tooth and nail for the things that matter most to you, it can feel absolutely crushing when some of the most important aspects, such as child custody or property division, do not work out in your favor. Luckily, these agreements might not be set in stone. If circumstances have changed since you divorced, you might be interested in a post-divorce modification.
The court generally understands that circumstances change, and sometimes legal modifications need to be made in order to reflect those incidental changes. While post-divorce modifications are possible, they are not always easy to obtain, and cannot be fulfilled without good reason. If you are interested in a divorce modification, find when these legal changes are warranted, who qualifies, and what the legal process looks like.
Understanding Your Divorce Agreement
At the end of each divorce, the court issues a legally binding agreement that outlines the specific terms agreed upon by the court. Each agreement is different, but typically includes information about property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody.
Spousal support can be changed when either spouse undergoes a serious change in circumstances, especially in regards to income. If you share children, your custody arrangement or child support agreement may also need to be altered as time goes on and your children’s needs refocus elsewhere, but other divorce terms are not so easily modified. The division of assets, for example, is usually quite permanent once it has been finalized in the divorce agreement.
Even if it may have to be modified later on down the line, a divorce agreement is mandatory and must always be upheld, regardless of how either party feels about it. That being said, if circumstances change, or if one spouse downright refuses to obey the terms of the agreement, you may be able to seek a modification.
Qualifying for a Modification
In order to qualify for a divorce agreement modification, you must be able to show the court that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. In other words, you cannot ask the court to change a court order simply because you did not like it, you must have a valid reason and circumstances must be different now than they were when your order was issued.
Some examples of a “substantial change in circumstance” include:
- Change in income
- Job loss
- The child’s needs have changed, including medical requirements
- Either parent has more children
- Either spouse develops a serious illness
- Either spouse moves in with a partner
- Either spouse is arrested
Failing To Obey
When someone fails to obey a court order, be it a divorce agreement, custody order, or any other similar directive, that individual could be found in contempt of court. Court orders must be honored by all parties involved, or the court could take action to punish the negligent individuals with wage garnishments, property seizure, withholding of tax refunds, driver’s license suspension, and jail time.
If, for example, a mother refuses to allow her children to visit with their father, even though he has court-ordered visitation rights, she could lose certain custodial rights. On the other hand, if your ex-spouse is ignoring your divorce agreement, you may have the grounds to seek a modification when you report their noncompliance to the court.
If you are interested in seeking a post-divorce modification and you have experienced a change in circumstances, you need to discuss your next step with an attorney. A qualified family lawyer can help guide you through the legal process, petitioning the court and requesting an official modification. Whether your ex-spouse is ignoring court orders or your needs have changed, our firm is ready to help you seek the modification you need.