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Mark Abzug

When can you modify your divorce decree?

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2023 | Divorce

Going through a divorce can be hard on anyone, and for many spouses, it is common to be unsatisfied or disappointed with the outcome of a settlement. It is also possible that your circumstances have changed, and there are terms in your agreement you may not meet.

Reopening a divorce case

Once the judge issues a divorce decree, both parties must comply with the court order. A court rarely allows the reopening of a divorce case and may only permit you to do so for a compelling reason. You may be able to reopen your case if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your ex used threats, coercion, or intimidation during the proceedings
  • A legal mistake was made by the court
  • Your ex-spouse committed fraud or did not fully disclose their assets
  • You made a mistake and were unable to supply a crucial piece of information
  • You found new and significant evidence that was not available when the court made its decision

Reopening your divorce case will mean going through long court proceedings again. There will be at least two hearings, one to determine if you have legal grounds to revisit the case and another to determine how valid those grounds are.

Filing for modification

Significant life changes may affect your ability to pay alimony or child support and could justify a modification. Significant changes in circumstance may include:

  • Loss of employment
  • Change in income
  • Disability
  • Retirement
  • Remarriage
  • Change in the child’s needs
  • Crime conviction

You will need to file a modification petition with the court and serve the necessary documents to your ex-spouse. The individual who filed the petition is also responsible for proving a change in circumstance.

It can be difficult to petition the court to reopen a divorce case or modify a divorce decree. Some changes you seek may also require careful legal analysis. If you are unable to comply with a court order or learn of new information that could affect your decree, you may want a lawyer to help you with your next steps.