Can you file a motion to change a divorce decree? Can a divorce decree be reversed? Here’s what you need to know about divorce modifications.
Love doesn’t last forever, but sometimes your relationship with your ex feels like it does. After divorce, many couples must still communicate over issues like raising children, paying alimony and child support, and other shared obligations.
A divorce agreement is a contract that holds well after the time you are legally separated. However, as circumstances change over time, you may have the need to amend your agreement. You may even reconcile with your ex, and desire to reverse the divorce entirely.
Here is a list of questions to think about if you are wondering “can a divorce decree be reversed?” or considering other changes to your legal contract.
1. Can a Divorce Decree Be Invalidated?
Divorce is a disruptive, emotionally turbulent time. Many people agree to terms that they later regret.
Some may realize months or even years later that their alimony is woefully inadequate or that the custody arrangement is unfair.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to completely invalidate a divorce agreement. To do so, you would have to prove that your ex was guilty of fraud, or hid assets during the proceedings.
Making poor decisions does not allow you to invalidate the agreement. However, you can change the agreement if you can establish changed conditions like higher costs of living or a child’s special needs.
2. Can a Divorce Decree Be Reversed?
Between ten to fifteen percent of all divorced couples reconcile. Can they wipe out the years of rancor and the painstaking legal proceedings by wiping the slate clean?
Most of the time you will not be allowed to reverse a divorce decree to go back as if it never happened. Because many states encourage separation before divorce, you can take your time before proceeding to the final decree. If you separate and change your minds, you can easily vacate the separation agreement.
A divorce, on the other hand, declares a marriage to be “irretrievably broken.” If you are legally divorced and decide to get back together, you have to go through the legal process of marriage all over again.
3. Can We Change the Amount of Alimony?
However, you can petition the court to change the amount of alimony you pay or receive. You must establish that things have changed since the initial agreement. For example, as children get older, their needs become more costly: sports, transportation, college.
Your personal circumstances may also have changed. If you lose your job, you can ask the court to lower your financial obligations to your spouse. It would not do your kids any good to drive you into bankruptcy.
On the other hand, if you suddenly secure a higher paying job, your ex may request that you increase your payments. Your children can expect the same raise in the standard of living that you enjoy.
4. Can We Change Custody Terms?
Custody is another term that can be modified as circumstances dictate. For example, if one parent becomes incapacitated and is unable to take care of the child, the other parent may petition for full custody.
Sometimes custody becomes an issue when one parent desires to move out of state. If the person with primary custody wants to move far away from someone with visitation rights, they may be required to prove they have no other employment opportunities at all in their current state. They will have a tough burden to prove that moving a child far away from the other parent is necessary and that there are no alternatives.
The standard is always what is in the best interests of the child? Frequent changes of custody are considered disruptive and will not be looked at favorably by a judge. However, issues like abuse, alcoholism, or neglect may compel a court to change the custody agreement immediately.
If a parent ignores the legal process for custodial arrangements, they may lose their rights. This may happen if parent skips visitations, asks for changes without notice, or makes trouble with the ex-spouse during pick-ups or drop-offs.
5. Can We Settle Things Ourselves?
Every time you want to amend your agreement, you need to ask a judge to sign off on it. After spending lots of money on legal fees to get divorced, you may be reluctant to spend more money on changing the agreement a few years later.
It may be tempting to be flexible with one another. You may agree to let your ex pay alimony late one month after getting laid off. You may agree to Sunday nights instead of Saturday nights for visitation because it just seems easier.
However, without a binding legal agreement, you cannot enforce these changes if a dispute arises. What if the lower payments continue for months, or disappear altogether? If you go back to court, the judge may think you acquiesced to the lower payments and relinquished your right to enforce the agreement.
Relationships between formerly married people can change dramatically. However, legal contracts are harder to change. A matrimonial lawyer can protect you from making emotional decisions that may hurt you and your family down the road.
Additionally, a family lawyer can calculate the amount that the state deems appropriate for alimony and child support for a family in your situation. They can take into account eventualities you might never even consider!
They must also put your interests first. Often, when a couple tries to work things out on their own, one party may end up compromising and making decisions that are not in their own best interests. By retaining an attorney, you will have someone who can advocate for you,
Divorce Decrees Over Time: Adjusting to Changed Circumstances
Whether your questions include “can a divorce decree be reversed?” or “Can I reduce my alimony payments?” it is always advisable to obtain professional legal advice.
As time goes on, things may change drastically when it comes to your salary, childcare costs, and other expenses. You may even get back together with your ex. No matter what, an attorney can help you protect your assets and your children, no matter what unpredictable events come your way.
Call (402) 415-2525 for more information on matters pertaining to divorce, alimony, and child custody.