Newton Divorce Modifications Lawyer
When a couple divorces, a judge issues orders regarding important issues such as child support, child custody, and alimony. But over time, individual circumstances can change, and a parenting plan or support obligation might no longer make sense in light of these changes. Getting a divorce modified, however, is much more complicated than many people imagine. Judges are not eager to revisit their orders, and you must do more than express displeasure with the initial divorce degree to obtain a modification. Instead, men and women need compelling evidence that a modification is necessary.
At Turco Legal, PC, we can help our clients file a complaint for modification and gather information to convince a judge that modification is appropriate. In some cases, both exes can agree to the modification and submit a proposal to the judge, but disputes are sometimes unavoidable. In that case, seek out legal assistance promptly.
Significant Change in Circumstances
A judge wants to see a significant change in circumstances to support any modification of the divorce decree. That’s the legal standard typically used, and it serves a critical purpose. Requesting modification is not appropriate simply because you are unhappy with the judge’s initial divorce orders. A modification is also not an appeal of the initial divorce award.
Some common life changes which probably qualify as “significant” include:
- Children are growing and their needs change. For this reason, a parent might request a modification of custody or change in visitation.
- The custodial parent wants to move to a different state with the child.
- One spouse retires and no longer has the income to pay alimony.
- One spouse becomes disabled and suffers a serious drop in income, which can affect their ability to pay support obligations.
- One spouse remarries, which can end alimony payments.
- A parent becomes unemployed and can no longer meet their child support obligations through no fault of their own.
In most cases, the change in circumstances cannot be voluntary. For example, a person cannot get out of paying alimony by quitting their job and working part-time. The same is true of a spouse receiving alimony. He or she cannot suddenly quit working and claim poverty as a reason to increase their monthly award.
Any request for modification of the divorce must be made to an appropriate court. In most cases, this will be the court that issued the divorce decree. Look through your paperwork and check which court this is. If both spouses have moved since the divorce, filing in a different court might be appropriate, depending on the circumstances.
Any request must be made by filing a complaint and sending a copy along with a summons to your ex, who has 20 days to respond. If your ex ignores the summons, then you can request an uncontested trial. Otherwise, the court will calendar your case and schedule a pretrial conference where you can discuss the current status of the dispute.
A couple can reach an agreement between themselves, and mediation is sometimes helpful at getting everyone on the same page. If so, you can submit a proposal to the judge and ask for it to be approved.
The Modification Hearing
If you went through a divorce trial, then a modification hearing should be a familiar experience. Generally, each side will present evidence to convince the judge to either grant or deny the modification. Each side can present documentary evidence and witness testimony under oath.
A lawyer is an important asset during a modification dispute. An attorney will know what evidence a judge will find compelling. For example, if you must reduce your work due to illness or disability, you should present solid medical testimony and records—otherwise, a judge might not believe you cannot work as much as you used to. If you claim that the other parent is a danger to the children, you might need the testimony of a child psychologist or other expert.
Special attention should be paid when requesting a change to visitation or custody. A judge will refuse to make a modification unless it is in the best interests of the child, and this is a complicated legal analysis.
Get Experienced Legal Help for Your Divorce Modification
Although many judges are skeptical of requests to alter the terms of the divorce, courts do consider requests for modification every single day. With the right legal approach, you can revise the divorce decree so that it better suits your life today. For assistance or to discuss your case, contact Turco Legal today by calling (857) 270-7200 or sending us an email.