Can I Amend My Divorce Decree?
Can You Reopen a Divorce Case in TN?
Divorce is a very difficult process. It is not uncommon to end the process with a mixture of feelings and, in some cases, frustration or disappointment with how your divorce was resolved. Some people may feel that their alimony agreement is unfair or wish they had been awarded more time with their children. These can be difficult positions to be in.
Once the courts issue a divorce decree, it is legally binding. Even if you feel that your settlement is unfair in some way, you will need to comply with the court order. Failure to comply with a court order can result in the court taking enforcement action against you, or you may even be held in contempt of court.
So, is there something you can do if you are unhappy with your divorce settlement?
Reasons to Challenge a Divorce Decree
Though your divorce decree is legally binding, there are limited circumstances under which you can challenge it. Doing so will involve going back to court, which can be a long process. It’s also important to remember that it is very rare that a divorce case will be reopened. The courts work very hard to ensure that divorce decrees are as fair and appropriate as possible.
You may be able to challenge or reopen your divorce case if:
- There was a mistake in material facts that impacted the outcome of the divorce
- Deceit or fraud was committed by one or both parties
- There was an instance of extreme duress, threat, coercion, or intimidation
- A legal mistake was made on the part of the courts
To reopen your divorce case, you will need to petition the court and allege one of the previously mentioned problems. Just being unhappy with the outcome is not enough. Before moving forward with appealing your divorce settlement, you should consult with an experienced attorney (like ours at Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC) to make sure this is in your best interest.
Note: you cannot stop someone from divorcing you, and therefore, once finalized, you cannot have your divorce reversed.
While you may not be able to reopen your divorce case, you may be able to modify it. Common post-divorce modifications include alimony, child support, and child custody modifications. Amending a divorce decree is achieved by a petition for a post-divorce modification. However, the courts will not consider a modification unless there has been a significant change in circumstances that is both lasting and impacts the ability of one or both parties to comply with the original order.
You may qualify for a post-divorce modification if you have experienced any of the following:
- A change in employment, such as losing a job
- A change in income, such as a pay cut or a significant increase
- The birth of a new child or gaining a new dependent
- A change in physical health or disability
- A change in mental health
- Relocation of a parent or the child
- A change in your shared child’s circumstances or needs
You may also seek a modification in cases where one party has been arrested or convicted of a crime. Often, a criminal conviction will greatly impact all aspects of the convicted party’s life, including their employment and living situations. This can significantly impact their ability to comply with court orders. In these cases, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that the matter is handled appropriately with the courts.
What to Do If You Cannot Comply with Your Divorce Decree
If you find that you are in a situation where you are unable to comply with your divorce decree, you need to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Whether you’ve lost your job and cannot make your spousal support payments, or you’ve had a change in your living situation and cannot comply with your custody order, the last thing you want to do is ignore the problem. Your attorney can help you assess your case and guide you through the modification process.
If you need help with a post-divorce modification, reach out to Casey, Simmons & Bryant, PLLC. Our attorneys are standing by to help you with your case today.