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How do I fight the proposed modifications to our divorce?

October 4, 2017

Divorce is a life-altering event that typically has a profound impact on many aspects of a separating pair’s life, ranging from financial status and residence to the relationship shared with children. In many instances, divorce settlements are reached after either significant negotiation between the splitting spouses or following a potentially lengthy court battle in which a judge rendered pertinent decisions about the couple’s affairs moving forward.

These renderings are usually final. However, a change in one of the concerned party’s circumstances might necessitate a modification to the agreement. That said, the ex-spouse might not be amenable to any proposed modifications. This brief piece discusses the divorce modification process and what actions a former spouse can take if he or she does not wish to see such alterations become reality.

Why Could An Ex-Spouse Request A Modification To A Divorce Agreement?
Following a divorce decree, one of the former partners may experience a significant life change that could prompt them to seek changes to the original legally-binding agreement. Such reasons might include, but are not necessarily limited to a dramatic alteration to his or her financial situation (job loss, illness, injury) which might hinder his or her ability to pay child support or alimony, or being forced to move for whatever reason (job relocation).

How Can An Ex-Spouse Seek Modifications?
Usually, the party hoping to make changes would approach his or her ex, discuss proposed modifications and ask if he or she would be willing to sign off on them. If the two sides reach an understanding, they must submit a Modification Agreement to the court. Should the court approve the suggested alterations, a modified divorce decree becomes a court order.

Most courts do not tweak established financial, property ownership or debt division guidelines set forth in the initial judgment. However, certain institutions might revisit specific spousal/child support, child custody and visitation rights if the spouse can clearly prove conditions warrant such action.
Can One Former Spouse Seek Modifications Without The Other’s Consent?
The answer to this question is yes. However, the modification-seeking individual must follow a number of legally-mandated steps beginning with the filing of a Motion for Modification with the court that handed down the initial divorce decree.

Can A Modification Motion Be Challenged?
The answer to this question is also yes. After the Modification Motion has been filed, the spouse not in favor of the proposed changes is given a specific amount of time to offer a response. Such durations vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but often range anywhere from a number of days to several weeks.
While the individual seeking the changes must illustrate why it is necessary, the person opposing the alterations also bears the responsibility of proving why the court should not grant the modification(s). This is particularly true in the event the proposed decree tweaks deal with child custody issues or visitation rights. It is important to remember that, in these instances, the court will likely render a decision that serves the best interest of the children involved and not those of the former spouses.

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