Changing A Settlement Agreement After Divorce
When a couple is able to reach an out-of-court agreement on divorce-related issues, like property division, alimony, and child custody, a court will review that marital settlement agreement and if it is deemed fair and equitable, will incorporate that agreement into the final divorce decree. In this way, a private contract between the parties becomes a part of the court order that legally dissolves the marriage. These divorce decrees are permanent and legally binding, so the parties must comply with them or risk being sanctioned by the court. While it is rare for an entire marital settlement agreement to be nullified or revoked at a later date, it is possible for parts of these agreements to modified, so if your own marital settlement agreement needs to be modified to reflect changes in your life, you should speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer, who can help you navigate the process.
Under Florida law, alimony arrangements that are the result of voluntary property settlements or a court order can be modified by filing a petition at a later date. Petitioners can ask that the amounts be either decreased or increased, but must have proof regarding the changing circumstances, or the changed financial ability of the parties involved. Courts can either amend the payment amount or confirm it based on fairness and can even go so far as to modify or terminate the obligation entirely if the paying party can prove that the recipient is in a permanent supportive relationship.
Child Custody and Support
Besides alimony, couples can also seek the modification of any child custody and child support-related provisions in their marital settlement agreement. Again, to obtain a modification, the petitioning party will need to show that he or she has undergone a permanent and significant change in circumstances, such as:
- A substantial change in income, or the ability to make payments;
- An unavoidable increase in healthcare costs;
- The relocation of one parent; or
- The remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient spouse.
Requesting a modification can be a complicated process, especially if one spouse isn’t willing to negotiate. In these cases, it will be necessary to file an official petition with the court.
While ongoing issues attached to a settlement agreement can be modified, things like property division are much harder to change. Basically, if one party is permanently granted a certain asset in a divorce, it will be nearly impossible for the other party to change that arrangement. The only time this may be possible is in cases where a person can show that the other spouse was hiding assets. In these situations, a court may be willing to change the division of assets, so that the petitioning party is given a higher award.
Set Up a Free Case Review Today
If you have questions about whether you qualify for a modification of your divorce decree, please call 954-945-7591 and set up a free consultation with dedicated divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. today.