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What to Consider When Modifying Your Divorce Decree

Written by on July 11, 2022

During your divorce, you and your partner signed an agreement that detailed how your estate would be divested, how child care would be split, and issues related to the support of a former spouse and the children. This divorce decree is then filed with the court where it becomes legally enforceable. In the event that one party does not live up to their end of the agreement or the material circumstances of either party change significantly, the divorce decree may need to be modified in order to fit the current circumstances.

It is important to understand that if you make a verbal arrangement with your spouse to change the divorce decree, the agreement you made will not be enforceable by the courts until the divorce decree has been updated. In some cases, it will be necessary to go back and modify the original agreement to ensure that it reflects the changed circumstances.

Should I ask the court to modify the divorce decree?

Courts will allow divorced couples to modify divorce decrees when necessary. However, it will depend heavily on whether or not there is a material change in your circumstances. In cases where both parties agree to the modification, the courts will generally sign off on it unless it negatively impacts the children. In cases where one party contests the modification, the court will only agree to the change if there is a good reason to do so. 

What Elements of a Divorce Decree Can be Changed?

There are two things you need to understand. Firstly, the court is not a mediator when it comes to dealing with strife in your relationship. They generally only consider modifications that impact child support, child custody, and visitation schedules. Unless there was some form of fraud involved in negotiating a divorce settlement, issues related to alimony and property division are generally left in place.

Substantial Change in Circumstances

The court will consider any modification that is based on a substantial change in the material circumstances that occurred after the original divorce decree was filed. So, if a parent moves to retain employment elsewhere, loses their job, or can no longer act in their role as a legal guardian to the children, the decree will be changed to reflect the new circumstances. Furthermore, a significant change in the child’s situation can also result in a change to the divorce decree. 

Talk to a Fort Wayne Family Law Attorney Today

The Bellinger Law Office will happily answer any questions you have about modifying a divorce decree. Call today to set up an appointment and we can begin discussing your next steps immediately.

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