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Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Can I Have a Divorce Decree Modified?

Most individuals who go through a divorce never want to step back into a family court hearing room again. However, circumstances may arise that require you to request a modification of your divorce decree. A New York divorce lawyer can advise you whether the court is likely to grant a modification of the divorce decree and the steps involved in filing a motion and requesting a hearing.

Reasons for Requesting a Divorce Decree Modification in New York

Modifications of divorce decrees are not common, but they do occur. Various life events or changes in circumstances may necessitate changing the terms of the original divorce decree. To change the terms of a divorce decree, you must prove to the court that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred that would warrant the court modifying its original ruling in your divorce case.

Most modifications of divorce decrees deal with child custody and domestic support. Some instances that might give rise to a modified divorce decree include:

  • A significant increase or decrease in a party’s income that can impact child support or spousal support payments
  • A parent is being transferred or desires to move
  • A change in a child’s needs that warrant changes in visitation or custody.
  • A party becomes ill and is unable to work
  • One of the parties loses his or her job
  • Allegations of abuse or neglect
  • The party receiving alimony payments gets remarried or is living with someone

There are a variety of situations that might give rise to a motion for modification of the divorce decree. If you believe you have a valid reason to modify your divorce decree, you should speak with an attorney.

Verbal agreements between parties to modify the terms of the order are not enforceable under the law. One party may agree to the terms for a period and then suddenly change his of her mind. It is best to go through the proper procedure to request a court-ordered modification of the divorce decree if you have sufficient grounds for the modification.

Proving a Modification of the Divorce Decree Is Justified

The party filing the motion for modification has the burden of proving that a change in the divorce decree is warranted. Judges are not likely to grant a motion to modify without extensive documentation and other evidence that proves a substantial change of circumstances. The standard to determine what constitutes a “substantial” change in circumstances can be different based on the facts relevant to the case.

For instance, losing your job because your employer is downsizing may not be considered a “substantial” change in circumstances to justify decreasing support payments because you can likely find another job within a reasonable period. However, losing your job because you developed a condition that will result in permanent disability should qualify as a “substantial” change in circumstances.

Contact a New York Divorce Lawyer if You Have Questions

It can be difficult to know whether your specific situation justifies a modification of your divorce decree. For most individuals, any change in circumstances seems substantial. Contact Gassman Baiamonte Gruner, P.C. to speak with a New York divorce lawyer today. Our New York family law attorneys can review the facts in your case and advise you of your legal rights and options regarding the modification of a divorce decree.


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