Unless you have a crystal ball, there is little chance you will be able to anticipate every future change to your life’s circumstances when you are figuring out the details of your divorce. You will try to plan for as much as possible, but there is simply no way you can cover every major change that will occur in your life.
Most former spouses will have occasion at some point in their lives to modify the terms of their divorce. There are several ways you can go about obtaining a divorce modification, and they do not necessarily have to be the same method you originally used to obtain your divorce. For example, if you litigated your original divorce in court, you could utilize collaborative law in order to come to a mutual agreement on a modification.
Modifications are essential for adapting your divorce terms to the changing circumstances of your life and for avoiding certain aspects of your original agreement becoming irrelevant or ineffective.
Below we have detailed five common situations that often require divorced spouses to seek out a modification to their divorce agreement.
Spousal support or child support payments from your former spouse are no longer enough
There are a number of situations where the original terms that were decided in your divorce with regard to alimony or child support are no longer enough to cover necessary expenses. Perhaps you were in an accident and are no longer able to work. Perhaps you were laid off through no fault of your own. Whatever the case, life changes may dictate that you need to receive more, or possibly even less spousal or child support, which would require a modification.
You can no longer afford to make payments required of you
Conversely, if you are paying child or spousal support and there are drastic changes to your income, you may need to obtain a modification in order to pay less spousal or child support. As the party required to pay such support, you are at much greater risk than the party who receives the support payments if you attempt to change anything about your payments without obtaining a modification. You could face serious legal action for nonpayment of child or spousal support. Because of this, if something occurs that makes it so that you can no longer afford the payments, you need to pursue a modification to your agreement.
You want or need to move a significant distance away
Your ability to move to a new residence that is a significant distance away from a former spouse who shares custody of your children is greatly affected by your child custody agreement. But what if you are offered a dream job opportunity in another state, or you want to move closer to your aging parents in another state in order to care for them? Relocations are a type of modification that will usually involve changes to your parenting plan and child custody agreement. You could find yourself facing charges as serious as kidnapping if you attempt to relocate with your child without modifying your original divorce terms.
Child going to college
Did your original agreement make specific plans for how you would provide for a child’s college education? Often, this provision is left out of divorce agreements, especially if the children are very young at the time. However, college is very expensive and you will likely need to modify your agreement to negotiate how much each parent will provide towards the child’s college education.
Change of heart
Often, couples get caught up in the emotions of a divorce and fight for extreme measures such as obtaining sole custody of children. After time passes, you may decide that you want the other parent to play a role in the child’s life. A change of heart from your original goals or intentions in settling the terms of your divorce may require that you seek a modification which will reflect your new opinion.
Most major life changes for you, your former spouse, or your children will have a profound impact on your original divorce agreement, often requiring a legal modification to update the terms. If you are interested in pursuing a divorce agreement modification through any method, please contact Landerholm Law to discuss your situation and let us advise you on the best course of action.