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Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Sunday, May 28, 2017

When Can I Modify My NY Divorce Judgment?

Divorce is usually final. However, the circumstances of divorced spouses can often change. The financial, physical or marital positions of two former spouses at the time of divorce will not be the same four years later or nine years later. New York law recognizes this fact, which is why it gives courts the discretion to modify divorce judgments. However, courts apply this discretion strictly in order to discourage frivolous applications that show no reasonable cause and are only an attempt at escaping court obligations.

If you would like a divorce judgment modified based on the significant changes that have happened to you or your former spouse since the judgment was first issued, consult a New York divorce modification lawyer today.

What Are the Issues for Modification in Divorce Judgments?

There are many pertinent issues to be decided during a divorce. These include:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Distribution of marital property

Once the court has issued a divorce judgment, it is usually reluctant to amend or modify it. This is because the court wants to give a sense of finality to its judgments and to ensure consistency in the application of the judgments. The courts also want to ensure stability in the life of any children involved. 

However, there are instances where a court can modify a divorce judgment.

When the Court Will Modify Divorce Judgment

These instances will depend on the issues you wish to modify.

  1. Child Custody and Visitation

    Either of the former spouses can apply to the court for a modification of child custody or visitation rights. An application is allowed only when circumstances have significantly changed for example, when one parent becomes abusive, mentally incapacitated or unfit to take proper care of the child or when one parent has to relocate. The court will determine when circumstances have changed significantly.

    When courts do find that circumstances have changed significantly, they make custody decisions based on the child’s best interests.

  2. Child Support

    An application for modification of child support can be made if the circumstances of either spouse change significantly. However, standards differ for divorce orders made before October 13, 2010 and those made afterward.

    For orders made before October 2010, the applying parent only has to prove that circumstances have changed significantly since the date when the original order was made. For orders made after October 2010, the applying parent needs to prove that the change in circumstances is not only substantial but that three years have gone by since the initial order and that either parent’s income has changed by 15 percent or more. It is easier to get child support modification for orders made before October 2010.

  3. Spousal Support

    An application for modification or termination of spousal support can be allowed when the circumstances of a spouse change significantly. For example, if the paying spouse is retrenched, gets a pay cut, suffers heavy investment losses or retires, the court may modify spousal support.

    If the paying spouse becomes seriously ill or unable to earn income, spousal support may be terminated.

    If the spouse receiving support receives a windfall gain such as a lottery win, gets a high-paying job, gets a promotion or inherits significant property, spousal support may be stopped or reduced.

    Support ends when either spouse remarries.

     

The circumstances of all divorce cases are different. If you are thinking of applying for a modification of a divorce judgment, start by talking to a New York divorce attorney to determine whether your case can support a modification. Contact us today for a consultation at 516-228-9181.


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