Post-Divorce Modifications for Your Changing Life
The only constant in life is change, so why should your divorce decree stay stagnant as your family’s needs evolve? The parenting plan set forth in your divorce decree should represent the best interests and needs of all involved parties, but your circumstances are likely to change over your lifetime. A post-divorce modification to the parenting plan is a suitable solution for changes in income, health, ability to provide child care, residency, and work schedule. The Court will require that there is a “material and substantial change” to your circumstances in order to modify the original parenting plan, and the frequency of requests to modify is limited, so it is best to discuss your situation with an attorney who can help you evaluate the right path for you to address your needs. Often times, there are creative solutions that can be reached without initiating a new legal proceeding, such as bringing in a parenting facilitator or parenting coordinator to help address issues.
Before making any changes to the payment obligations required in your original decree, it’s important to get a Court order establishing those changed obligations. For example, if your income suddenly decreases and you want to change how much you pay in child support, you must be prepared to provide proof of these changes and have a new Court order with the modified amount. Simply changing how much or how often you pay without doing this can put you in contempt of court and risk severe consequences.
A post-divorce agreement can also accommodate changes in parenting schedules or abilities. In the event that one parent’s work schedule changes drastically, a parent is deployed in military service, a parent must relocate their residency, or one parent suffers a health emergency that leaves them unable to care for their children, a post-divorce modification can address these needs and help the family transition into a new arrangement. Again, this will need to be formalized with the Court in order to avoid serious ramifications resulting from violating the original decree.
Your current parenting plan should reflect your changing family and growing needs. At Hargrave Family Law, we can take a close look at your new life circumstances and help you determine if any changes may be necessary to your current divorce decree. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.