During divorce settlement negotiations, the goal is to come to an agreement that meets everyone’s needs for the foreseeable future. Although family courts don’t allow random or frivolous changes to divorce agreements, they also understand that life changes, and so do the needs and resources of everyone involved: you, your former spouse, and your children.
Below is an overview of four key situations where you may be allowed to modify your original agreement. It is important to note that these changes in circumstances must be substantial and likely to continue for a while, if not permanently.
1. Job Loss
Losing your job can make it difficult to meet your financial obligations, so if you are paying child and/or spousal support, you may be able to obtain a modification that lowers your payments until you find another job. Should that job loss be due to permanent disability, the court may modify the support agreement to accommodate the reduced income.
2. One Parent Relocates
If one parent gets a new job or decides to move for a different reason, you may need to modify the visitation or custody arrangement, especially if the distance between the two homes is going to be a significant amount.
3. A Supported Spouse Remarries
Most support awards are designed to be rehabilitative so that the lower-income spouse can get the training or education they need to become more self-sufficient. In cases where short-term support is insufficient, the court may order durational alimony, which generally lasts as long as the marriage did. In other words, if a divorced couple was married for 15 years, the supported spouse can receive alimony for that long. However, if that spouse remarries, the payer can seek a modification allowing the payments to stop.
4. The Children’s Needs Change
Children grow fast, so their changing needs represent one of the most common reasons for modifying a divorce agreement. For example, if you divorced while your kids were in preschool, their food, clothing, and recreational expense needs are going to be a lot higher when they are teenagers, so more child support will be in order.
The changing needs situation also apply if one or more of your children develops a learning disability or serious health condition that requires additional money for a tutor, special school, or advanced medical treatment, the custodial parent will have to seek a child support modification.
Get Help with a Divorce Agreement Modification
There are several acceptable reasons for modifying your divorce agreement. Attorney Bobby Barina can help you review your changed circumstances and make the appropriate child support, alimony, or custody modification request. To schedule a confidential consultation, please contact us.