The Final Divorce Decree: What Can and Cannot Be Modified?

A final divorce decree is for the most part a final conclusion of a marriage between two parties.  They are the final judgment that results from either an uncontested divorce settlement agreement or the result of a final trial.  Due to the fact that before the divorce decree is given parties are afforded every opportunity to address any and all issues of the marriage.  There are some issues that most courts will not address in a modification hearing this will include property division, debt division, and apportionment of insurance and investments.  However if there are children of the marriage then more often than not a change in circumstances of either party or the children will warrant and allow a modification of the divorce decree.  The parties can modify either via a court hearing or a mutual agreement divorce decrees.

Modification of Custody

There are times that the party that was awarded custody in full custody situation is no longer capable to provide for the best interest of the child.  This could be a result of illness or   a change in the status of the custodial parents mental, criminal, or financial status.  When there is a change the non-custodial parent can petition the court for a modification of custody that allows the court to revisit the issue of fitness and make a new custodial determination if necessary.  Parties will have to meet a specific burden of proof to get a change of custody in most courts.

Modification of Child Support

A final divorce decree cannot dictate future events.  There are times when eh party paying child support has a change in financial circumstances that calls for either an increase or decrease in support provided to the minor child.  Either party can seek a modification of child support.  This modification will be based either on a change of income or as a result of a change in child custody.

Seeking Legal Help

Obtaining a modification of your divorce decree requires that certain factors be present, before a judge will entertain your case.  Attorneys that are licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction and that have experience with family law issues are the best choice when seeking a modification.  A lawyer will be intimately aware of the proper procedural channels and what will be required in order to obtain the modification.  Make sure to seek the advice of a lawyer and don’t attempt to handle this type of case on your own.

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