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How to Modify Your Divorce Decree

If there has been a substantial change in circumstances, you may have a case for decree modification.  This process can be a big waste of resources and time if you don't plan carefully. You may also want to consider whether you can solve the problem through mediation.
  • Decree Modification Requires a Substantial Change in Circumstances

You must show that there is a substantial change in circumstances. This is perhaps the most important preliminary question to consider. If your divorce decree is only a few months old, it is unlikely that the court will find there was a substantial change in circumstances. Your case will be much more difficult to prove the sooner you bring it after your divorce is finalized. There may be a situation, however, in which a substantial change in circumstances has occurred, even though a small amount of time has passed. If you are in doubt, you should consult with us or another attorney to determine the strength of a decree modification.
Here are some examples of things that may be a substantial change in circumstances: (1) You are moving, and parent time cannot continue as it has been; (2) your ex has not been seeing the children as much as the decree says they are allowed to; (3) your work circumstances have changed and you have more time to spend with your children; (4) your ex-spouse has developed a substance abuse addiction; or (5) you have reason to believe that your children are otherwise in danger with the current parent-time arrangement.
If you have questions about your situation, schedule an appointment with us now!
  • Temporary Orders In A Decree Modification?

You may remember that you had temporary orders during your divorce or custody case. You can also get temporary orders to modify your divorce decree. Temporary orders are more difficult to get during a decree modification, and can be a waste of resources unless you have the right circumstances. You may be able to temporarily modify your parent time or custody if you can show an immediate and irreparable harm threatening your children, or you both have agreed to the change. The court will also consider the best interests of the children.
If the court modifies parent time and/or custody, they may also modify child support. This hearing may be a good time to discuss other issues.
  • What Parts of the Decree Can I Modify?

You can modify any part of the decree that is necessary to address your substantial change in circumstances. For example, if your child is now a teenager, you may want to modify not only your custody arrangements, but also your parenting plan. If your circumstances have changed and you have time to watch the children more, you may want to change parent time, or add in a right of first refusal. There can be any number of reasons to modify your decree. If you are wondering whether you have the ability to modify the decree, but are not sure, give us a call!
  • How do I Start My Modification?

You can begin to modify your decree the same way you began your petition for divorce or custody. First you will need to write out your modification petition, then you will need to file it with the court and serve it on the opposing party. After that, you will need to determine what the next step is. You can seek temporary orders, a custody evaluation, or conduct discovery. If you are feeling overwhelmed, Solon Law provides excellent guidance. 

If you're set on pursuing decree modification on your own, Solon Law can be a great resource for reviewing your documents, drafting documents or appearing on your behalf on a limited basis. Give us a call so we can find a way to help you!

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