Your family changes over time. A divorce agreement issued years ago may no longer be suitable as your financial and physical circumstances change. You might need a post-divorce decree modification.
Below, the attorneys at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC, explain New Jersey divorce decree modifications. Our experienced north New Jersey divorce attorneys are standing by to help if you feel you need such a modification. Contact us today to get started.
What Is a Post-Divorce Decree Modification?
A post-divorce decree modification is a legal procedure that seeks to change one or more of the terms of your divorce. A divorce decree is an official, final judgment by the court that addresses the terms and conditions of the divorce. These terms may be negotiated between the parties or decided by a court at trial.
Divorce decrees address issues such as:
- The division of marital property,
- Alimony or spousal maintenance, and
- Child support and custody if there are children.
The only way to change anything in a final divorce decree is to go back to court and ask the court to change one of these terms.
What Terms Can You Modify?
Unfortunately, you cannot get a post-divorce decree modification for anything. Generally, the court will only consider modifications for the following:
- Increasing or reducing child support payments,
- Increasing or reducing alimony payments,
- Terminating alimony or child support payments,
- Changing parenting time or visitation, or
- Altering custody arrangements.
Generally, a court will not modify an order regarding the distribution of marital property unless you believe your spouse hid property from you and the court during the divorce process.
You should speak with a New Jersey divorce attorney to understand the options available if you disagree with the distribution of marital assets.
Divorce Decree Modification Legal Standards
A court will only grant a post-decree modification if you meet specific legal requirements. Like with the original divorce terms, the parties can either agree to such alterations or a court will decide.
If you want to modify an alimony award, you must show the court that you’ve experienced a significant financial change in circumstances. And it’s important to note that the economic change must be involuntary.
Thus, losing your job or experiencing a significant health issue could be considered a significant change of circumstances. However, voluntarily quitting your job is not likely to qualify you for a modification.
Child Support Modification
Much like an alimony modification, you’ll have to show a significant and permanent change in financial circumstances to qualify for a child support modification. Plus, New Jersey also requires child support orders to be reviewed every three years due to cost-of-living adjustments.
Child Custody Modification
Children’s lives can change significantly over time. Thus, it’s understandable that the custody arrangement that worked for a small child might not work for a teenager. You can request a custody modification, so long as you can show that it’s in the best interest of the child.
There are many factors involved in determining a child’s best interest, so speaking with an attorney can help you determine if the changes you seek are warranted.
Contact Our Attorneys Today
Modifications involve several legal steps that can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, your local Metuchen attorneys at Wiley Lavender Maknoor, PC, can help. We’re strategic litigators and negotiators who can advise you on your legal options. Contact us today.