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Can I modify my divorce judgment?

When the dust settles and you come up for air after a divorce, you may quickly find that the terms of your divorce decree are not possible for you to uphold, or present some serious injustice. While the decree is legally binding, it is possible to petition the court that issued it to reconsider the terms and make modifications.

In general, petitioning a court for a modification is more likely to succeed than an appeal to a higher court. Whereas an appeal seeks to have one court undo the ruling of a lower court, which is not terribly common in divorce law, a modification is granted by the same court that issued the original divorce decree, and is usually significantly easier to achieve.

In order for a court to agree to a modification, the petitioning party must present compelling evidence that goes beyond mere inconvenience or personal frustration. A court is unlikely, for instance, to approve a modification simply because one parent wants more time with a child in a custody arrangement. However, if one parent sees that the other parent is behaving dangerously around the child, the court may agree to revisit the terms of custody. Similarly, if a parent paying child support faces hard financial times, he or she may request a modification to something more reasonable.

If you believe that you need to modify your divorce decree, you must make sure that you understand how to keep your rights secure in the process. An experienced attorney can help you look at your circumstances from a legal perspective and identify strategies you can use to protect your rights and build a new life for yourself after a divorce.

Source: FindLaw, "Appeals and Motions to Modify the Divorce Judgment," accessed Feb. 23, 2018

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