Post Divorce Modifications
After a divorce is finalized, it does not mean that the agreement is set in stone. As time goes by circumstances are more than likely to change for one or both spouses. When a significant change in circumstances occurs in either spouse’s life, then it may warrant a post divorce modification.
Modifications are used to change the terms of a child custody and visitation agreement, they can make changes in child support payments and they can modify spousal support or alimony payments. When it comes to child support and alimony, typically the person who is paying will seek a downward modification, whereas the person on the receiving end of child support or alimony will seek an upward modification.
In order for the courts to grant a modification, the petitioning party must prove a significant change in circumstances in order for the modification to be granted. Thus, the burden of proof is on the person who is seeking a modification.
What types of situations would warrant a modification? One aspect of modifications involves the area of spousal support. If a husband was paying alimony to his ex-wife and he lost his job, he could petition the courts for a modification so his payments can be reduced or eliminated entirely. On the other hand, if a man was paying alimony to his ex-wife and she obtained a well paying job, he might petition the courts for a modification as well.
Modifications are commonly used for child support payments. If a father was paying child support and his pay was cut, he could seek a downward modification. Conversely, if the father received a substantial raise, then his ex-wife could seek an upward modification that would reflect his pay increase.
Another reason for modifications has to do with child custody and visitation agreements. Perhaps when a son reached his teen years he realized that he would prefer to live with his father because he had a better relationship with him than his mother. In this case, the father can request that a modification be made to the child custody agreement. If parents want to change custody, or if they want to increase or reduce visitation for any reason, then they would have to petition the courts for a modification.
If the custodial parent wants to move out of the area or out of state with their child then they are going to need to request permission from the court. The courts will look at a number of factors, such as the child’s relationship with the non-moving parent, and if the move is in the best interests of the child.
Divorce agreements are considered permanent until a modification is made. The courts understand that circumstances change over time, thus warranting a modification. However, it will be up to the petitioning party to provide substantial evidence as to why the modification is in order.