Can you make changes after your divorce is finalized? Most people enjoy a little flexibility, fearing that when things are set in stone they can end up being too restrictive. This also holds true of divorce settlement agreements, which may not be adaptable enough to reflect changing realities. It's good to know that post divorce modification is sometimes possible in certain situations, even after the divorce has been finalized.
What things are modifiable?
Does this mean that you can modify each and every aspect of the divorce decree after it's been finalized? For instance, can you decide you want a bigger share of the retirement accounts and simply request a modification? No. Once the assets and debts have been divided, the family court will not entertain modifications relating to the original division of assets or debts except in very limited and unusual circumstances. However, other issues are typically subject to modification, such as alimony, child custody, visitation, and child support.
What do you need to show to justify a modification?
Before the court will consider granting a request for a modification, the person requesting the change will need to demonstrate that there has been a significant or substantial change in circumstances since the original order was issued. After all, if nothing has changed then, why would the court now agree to make any changes? Obvious examples include things like one parent relocating to another state, children becoming emancipated, extreme changes in income or earning capacity, or even a child no longer being in daycare.
What if you and your former spouse agree?
Rather than being made to jump through the hoops of showing a substantial change in circumstance, you can take a shortcut if you and your former spouse mutually agree that a change should be made. When this occurs, it is important to have an attorney reduce the agreement to writing, have it signed by both parties, and then have the new agreement approved by the family court. A hearing will be scheduled so that the court may ensure that both parties actually agree to the new terms. Once that happens, a new order will be issued, and it will become binding on and enforceable against both parties.