Can You Change a Divorce Agreement?

Photo of divorce petitionAs all divorcees well know, life does not always go as planned. People grow, relationships evolve, children are born, jobs are changed, and unexpected detours happen. When a divorce is made legal, both spouses will agree – in writing – on the terms of the settlement. This may be done through mediation, litigation or arbitration. Depending on the couple, this decree may include provisions for child support, child custody and parental rights, division of assets/property, as well as alimony payments.

After a divorce is finalized, and all the terms spelled out, you may decide that the agreement is no longer feasible or in your best interests. Whether it’s six months later or six years later, significant life changes can compel ex-spouses to seek an amendment or modification of their divorce agreement.

Modifying a divorce decree in NY and NJ

Generally speaking, the courts will only consider modifying a divorce decree in the event of drastic life changes, or if one party committed fraud during settlement negotiations. As an example, a child support agreement may be altered if it is later proven that one spouse failed to disclose income or assets. In this situation, a judge may change support payments to reflect this additional income.

If one ex-spouse loses their high-paying job, or otherwise comes into financial difficulties, they could file a motion to change their child support order. In the state of New York, this modification is only allowed if one parent can show a substantial (at least 15 percent) change in income.

The terms of spousal support can also be modified in the event one party retires, loses their job, suffers a huge pay cut, or receives a financial windfall (such as an inheritance) that boosts discretionary income. The courts can terminate the spousal support completely or alter the amount to reflect the current circumstances. However, the courts will require proper documentation (such as proof of unemployment) of financial changes in order to process this motion.

Post-divorce modifications to your settlement are easiest to achieve when both parties agree to the changes. If you are not able to reach an agreement with your ex-spouse about changes to child support, alimony or other terms, you can file a petition to modify with the assistance of a qualified attorney.

The fastest way to modify the terms of a divorce is to collaborate with your ex-partner, either alone or with a divorce attorney, to reach a mutual agreement which can then be presented to the courts for processing.

KGG divorce attorneys

Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. has decades of expertise in family law. If you live in northern New Jersey or New York and want to modify or alter your settlement decree, we invite you to schedule a private consultation with a divorce lawyer Rockland County residents have come to trust. With seasoned legal guidance, you can take the least-disruptive steps to modify the original order, and come to a mutually beneficial situation.

Additional Resources on Post Divorce Modifications:

  1. WomensLaw.org, Divorce: New Jersey, http://www.womenslaw.org/laws_state_type.php?id=187&state_code=NJ
  2. NY Courts, Divorce Basics, https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/family/divorceBasics.shtml