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When Might I Need To Modify My Divorce Decree?


Once a judge approves a divorce settlement agreement, or resolves any divorce-related legal issues via litigation, he or she will finalize the process by issuing a divorce decree. These decrees are important, as they list the rights and responsibilities of both parties in regard to property division, alimony, and if appropriate, child support and time-sharing. Many parts of the order will involve one-time instructions, like placing the family home in one person’s name, or ordering one party to sell an asset and divide the proceeds. Other directions, on the other hand, will be of a more ongoing nature. While the latter are intended to remain in place indefinitely, they can be changed, so if you have questions about your own divorce decree and whether it can be altered, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer about the circumstances under which these orders can be modified.

A Substantial Change in Circumstances

The terms of a divorce decree can’t be changed for just any reason. They can, however, be modified if one of the parties can prove that he or she has undergone a substantial change in circumstances. What qualifies as a material change in circumstances depends on the details of the case. However, courts have generally been willing to modify alimony, child support, or child custody orders when the petitioner has undergone a major financial change, such as the loss of a job or a demotion, or has experienced a sudden disability. If a person is unable to find reemployment or is forced to accept a lower paying job, then a court may grant a request for a modification of the divorce decree.

The Changing Needs of a Child

Couples who share children may also find themselves needing to amend their divorce decree as their children inevitably grow and mature. Starting school, getting a driver’s license, or going through another major life event can all have repercussions for a child’s life and day-to-day schedule. A change in school setting, for example, may require a different time-sharing schedule. Modifying a divorce decree in these cases can go a long way towards helping both parents foster a strong relationship with the child while also ensuring that his or her needs are met.


It is unlikely that both of a child’s parents will remain in the same residences while that child is growing up. Relocation by one parent, however, won’t always require a modification of the divorce decree unless he or she is planning on moving more than 50 miles away. In these cases, the relocating parent will need to modify the divorce decree to account for any resulting change in the time-sharing agreement.

Get the Legal Help You Need

If you think your divorce decree should be modified, you should consider working with a divorce lawyer who can ensure that everything is handled properly. Whether the modification is something that both parties want, or there is conflict over the attempted change, we can help you through the process. Contact dedicated Florida divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today to learn more.


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