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Divorce and Family Law

When can a divorce agreement be modified?

Divorce doesn’t always end the ties between a couple entirely — especially when there are issues like alimony or child support involved. Those two issues alone can keep cropping up with new problems for years after a divorce is finalized.

At times, it may be necessary to seek a modification of a divorce settlement. While it’s important to keep in mind that changing the terms of your divorce isn’t a simple process, it can be accomplished under certain circumstances.

Here are some of the most likely scenarios that lead to modifications of a divorce agreement:

1. You want to pay less spousal support (or you want your ex-spouse to pay more)

Whether you’re the paying spouse or the receiving spouse, alimony can become an issue as long as it is being paid. Maybe your ex-spouse just got a significant bonus and raise, and you feel that your alimony should be adjusted upward. Maybe your ex-spouse finally graduated college and got a full-time job, so you feel the court should reduce your alimony payments accordingly.

2. A child needs additional support because of exceptional needs

Children can develop unexpected issues that nobody can anticipate when a support agreement is signed five or 10 years earlier. Maybe your child has been diagnosed with a learning disorder since your divorce, and you need extra support to pay for therapy. Maybe your child has turned out to be a musical prodigy, and you want help affording the cost of his or her lessons and a special school. Either are good reasons to request a modification.

3. There’s a major change in someone’s living situation

This could be something like having a teenager decide that he or she wants to try living with the other parent for a while — which means that a modification of support should be considered. Another situation that might require a modification might be a job change. Maybe you want to take a new job in a different city but that may interfere with your ex-spouse’s visitation rights.

Alimony and child support modifications are the most common reasons to revisit a divorce agreement. Play it smart, however. Get advice about your rights before you make any demands.