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How do I proceed to get a modification of my divorce?

Divorce proceedings can be quite overwhelming for the parties involved. In some cases, the divorce may be finalized without properly addressing certain issues. If you feel that there are areas in a divorce decree that are unfair to you or that urgently need to be changed, then you can file a petition to modify the decree.

What Are the Requirements For Filing a Petition to Modify Your Divorce Decree?

While there is no time limitation for modifying your divorce decree, many states have time limits when it involves modifying child custody arrangements. For example, in Illinois, the issue of child custody can only be revisited after two years from the time of the original judgment.

Generally, to modify a divorce decree, you must show that the terms of the divorce are unfair, or that certain conditions have changed since the divorce. Most modification requests involve child visitation rights and child support. However, if you want to amend the areas relating to division of assets and liabilities, you should file a petition within 30 days of the decree; otherwise, you will lose your right to modify a decree on this matter.

Steps Towards Modifying a Divorce Decree

  • Identify the Part of a Divorce You Want to Modify

Any change in your circumstances can cause you to pursue changes to your divorce agreement. Determine whether you want changes to the amount of child support you pay because of changes in your respective incomes or whether childcare expenses have risen. You can seek to have alimony increased because your child has higher expenses or when deciding who will pay for your child’s college tuition.

Other reasons you may consider an amendment to a divorce decree may include a change of job, home address, and visitation schedules.

  • Try To Resolve the Issue Out of Court

When you agree on a modification of the terms of your divorce out of court, it is legally acknowledged as an uncontested amendment. For example, if a divorce agreement states that child visitation begins on Friday but you want it to start on Thursday, you can arrange with your ex-partner for this amendment and the court will only serve to approve and legitimize the agreement.

  • File a Motion to Modify

After you have determined the terms or conditions of a divorce you want to modify, and you are unable to make an uncontested amendment with your ex-spouse, you should file a motion to modify. This motion is filed in the court where you filed a divorce and where your divorce was finalized. After filing this motion, serve your ex-spouse with a notice of your intention to modify the terms of the divorce. After your ex-spouse has been notified about your motion to modify, you will be assigned a court date.

The Take Away

If you are not satisfied by the terms of your divorce or there have been some changes to your circumstances, you can pursue a modification of the divorce decree. While some amendments can be made without going to court, where your ex-spouse is not agreeable, you have no choice but to file a motion in court. Be sure to consult an attorney to advice you on whether filing a motion to modify is the right move or whether there are other measures you can take to ensure the divorce decree is fair.