A dissolution of marriage decree remains in effect as it is written unless it is modified in a subsequent proceeding. To get a modification, one must petition the court for a modification of an existing decree of custody order.
Why Modify a Divorce Decree?
Whether it involves children growing older and no longer needing the arrangement they once had, or other living conditions that change, such as remarriage, modification is simply a part of the post-divorce process.
To prevent decrees from becoming ineffective and burdensome, it’s up to the parties involved to keep the court aware and up-to-date on current living circumstances.
What Changes Call for Modification?
Although there is a nearly unlimited number of reasons for modification, some of the most common examples include:
- Losing a job or losing significant work hours
- Losing health insurance and other benefits
- Becoming disabled or incompetent
Essentially, any major life change that affects the personal and financial stability of either party may affect the current arrangements.
What can be modified?
Any aspect of the dissolution of marriage decree can be modified, including:
- Child support, as long as there will be a change in the child support amount by at least 15%
- Spousal Maintenance: Many parties make agreements that their spousal maintenance is non-modifiable. You should have an experienced attorney review your Divorce Decree to determine if your spousal maintenance is modifiable.
- Legal decision-making
- Parenting time
Unless there is an emergency situation, legal decision-making and parenting time orders cannot be modified until they have been in place for at least a year. Even then you must prove that there has been a substantial and continuing change in the circumstances to warrant a modification. Again, you should consult with an experienced attorney about whether your situation would warrant a modification.
Modifications can also be made if a termination of support is necessary, which may be the case if a child has emancipated, or one party has entered into a new financial situation that does not require the other party to provide support.