Can A divorce Decree Be Changed?

As the answers to legal questions often do, the answer to this question usually generates a set of additional questions, such as:

Who wants the order modified?
In almost all cases in which someone other than a party to the divorce wishes to change the divorce decree the answer is no. Thus, the question should be, can the divorce decree be changed upon the request of a party to the divorce. This leads to more questions.

What part of the order does the party want to modify?
If the modification has to do with property division, in most states, the answer is again no, unless there is evidence that the original decree was based on significantly incorrect information. In this event, states provide procedures for correction of the order based on the newly revealed information. Since states generally require that the parties provide full disclosure of assets and liabilities, if the incorrect information was intentionally provided in order to conceal assets, the court may also impose significant penalties.

If, on the other hand, the desired modification involves other issues, child support, spousal support, child custody and visitation, the next question is typically:

  • Has there been a significant change in circumstances since the entry of the decree that warrants a change?
  • In child custody matters, a number of different factors can come into play so that the court may find there is a significant change in circumstances justifying modification.
  • In child support and spousal support matters, the answer again depends on the question of whether there has been a significant change in circumstances to warrant the change. If so, the court may modify its original decree.

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For more information review our other family law FAQs, or call the Zolman Law Firm at 314-375-5237 or contact us online.