A Complete Guide to Post-Divorce Modifications
At The Carson Law Firm, we understand that life doesn’t always go according to plan. We’re here to help with any post-divorce modifications. Call us today.
Can I Change a Divorce Decree?
Are you unhappy with your divorce settlement? Or do you feel that your alimony agreement is unfair? Even if the divorce agreement is effective for a while, circumstances can always change, making it more difficult to comply with certain requirements of the order than it once was. The good news is that you can modify your divorce decree. However, there are limitations and only special circumstances under which you can make changes to it.
A divorce decree is a binding court order that defines the terms of your divorce. It details property division, child support, child custody, and visitation. It also includes reasons for the separation. Thus, modifying it can involve returning to the court.
A post-divorce modification requires a court petition with specific reasons for the change. Even though your settlement may be unfair, the court may not consider the changes. Yet, with the help of a knowledgeable divorce lawyer, you can have a better experience navigating those issues. Your attorney can help in negotiating the new terms with your ex-spouse. They can also increase your chances of getting the court’s approval to protect your rights.
How Does Post-Divorce Decree Modification Work in Missouri?
You can seek to change your divorce settlement if it is unfair. Missouri law grants you the right to petition alimony, child support, and child custody arrangements in court. However, you can modify the court orders only if there is a change in circumstances.
Here are some circumstances in which a family court judge may allow modifications:
Changes in children’s financial needs due to situations such as school or illness
Remarriage of the parent
A significant change in a person’s financial circumstances, e.g., lost wages, change of job, and bankruptcy
Abuse or neglect of a child
One spouse’s interference in the other’s visitation arrangements
One spouse’s endangerment of a child
Changes that prevent one parent from giving child support, such as a prison sentence
What Are Possible Post-Divorce Modifications in Missouri?
In Missouri, there are specific requirements to modify any divorce agreement. But, to change those orders, you should meet specific requirements. The court might need you to show any substantial changes that make the terms of your divorce unjust.
Here are some of the divorce agreement areas you may revisit:
Child Custody Modification
If both parents agree on changing their parenting plan, they can file a stipulation for modification in court. A Missouri court may allow their request. The changes in circumstances should affect a child’s welfare to warrant a child custody modification.
Some of those changes include the following:
- Possible danger to the child’s wellbeing
- Change in the child’s interests and needs
- Relocation of one parent, which might interfere with the child custody arrangements
- One parent’s violation of the custody terms
- Changes in a parent’s situation
- If one parent remarries
The court can also permit custodial guardianship to the other parent if the parent is ill. In all cases, the judge determines the child’s best interest. The court usually considers the following:
- The child’s wishes
- Emotional and physical requirements
- The ability of a parent to provide stability.
Child Support Modification
Child support modifications are usually due to material changes. A court can permit a modification to meet the child’s needs. The parents should file a motion for review and approval with the court.
Material changes to justify modification of child support terms include the following:
- Change in a parent’s salary
- Change in the number of financial dependents of one parent
- Change in a child’s lifestyle and living arrangements
If the court denies the motion, it can be set for trial, where you would require evidence to support your claim.
Spousal Support Modification
Missouri law on spousal maintenance grants a change in the spousal support order. To be successful in your attempt to modify spousal support orders, you need to prove a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. These changes include:
- Job loss
- Serious illness
- A disability that impacts their ability to pay child support
- Reduction in salary payments
- Cohabitation and remarriage
A post-divorce modification may be necessary if the changes affect a spouse’s ability to pay alimony. Also, if a spouse’s income increases, the receiving spouse may request an increase too.
Relocation Post-Divorce Modification
In Missouri, a court may agree to modify the terms of the divorce agreement based on the relocation of one parent if:
- The change occurs in the situation of the child or his custodial parent
- The modification is in the child’s best interests
- The circumstance involving location change is material and substantial. This can be due to a promotion, a new job, or a demotion.
The court may grant the custodial parent an order to move. The court may set out long-distance visitation requirements to meet the other parent’s right to maintain a relationship with their child.
Post-Divorce Modification Process
If both parents agree to the modification, they can file their agreement with the court for modification of the terms. The court then reviews and approves the terms to make them legally enforceable. However, if the parents disagree, the case goes to trial.
The parent asking for the modification will have to provide evidence. Evidence is needed to satisfy the legal burden of proof that the change is essential. The parent who is replying may also offer proof.
Even after a lawsuit has been filed, the parties should attempt to settle the issues. Most disputes are resolved without a trial. The option of mediation is always open. The court can and frequently does require that the parents consult with a mediator before hearing a motion to modify the terms of a divorce agreement.
Seek an Attorney’s Help With Your Post-Divorce Decree Modification
Do you need to file a motion in a family court to modify your final divorce decree? The Carson Law Firm has family law lawyers ready to assist you. Our legal team can help you file for divorce in Missouri and even assist in modifying any terms of the post-divorce decree.
Our divorce lawyers will advocate for you and your children’s rights in court. For help drafting, filing, evaluating, and reviewing your final divorce decree, contact us to schedule a consultation today!