Divorce is a life event that few want to revisit once the ink has dried on their divorce agreement or parenting plan. However, life is dynamic, and circumstances can change unexpectedly. Whether you're facing financial shifts, job losses, relocations, or other significant life events, you might find yourself in a situation where modifying your divorce agreement is necessary. In such cases, it's essential to understand the process and follow the right steps. Here are five tips to consider when seeking a modification:
Before attempting to navigate the complex process of modifying your divorce agreement, consult with an experienced attorney. Bring your existing divorce agreement and parenting plan, and share the reasons for the proposed changes. An attorney can assess your situation and provide tailored guidance. They can determine if the changes meet the legal criteria for modification, as not all changes qualify.
It's crucial to weigh the cost of seeking a modification against the potential benefits. If you're nearing the end of alimony or child support payments, the expenses involved in modification may outweigh the additional funds you'd recover. Consult with your attorney to understand the financial implications fully.
If your proposed modification involves relocating more than 50 miles from your previous residence at the time of the Final Judgment, (or whatever other relocation provision might be specified in your existing parenting plan or marital settlement agreement) you must follow strict rules and seek court approval before you move. Failing to comply with these rules can result in the relocation request being denied or no new parenting plan being ordered. This applies even if the child(ren) are not accompanying you.
Modifying parenting plans can be challenging, and not every inconvenience justifies a modification. Disruptions or a child's resistance to the current time-sharing schedule might not be sufficient grounds for a change. Keep in mind that the court considers over 20 factors when modifying a parenting plan, and the child's preference is just one of them.
If you anticipate that a modification may be needed in the future, start planning early. Keep detailed records if a parent is not exercising their time-sharing as agreed. If your income has changed, gather your financial records in advance. Early legal advice can help you with strategic planning for the modification process.
Life is unpredictable, and sometimes, modifying your divorce agreement is a necessary step to adapt to changing circumstances. Seeking professional legal guidance and being well-prepared can make the process smoother and more effective. If you find yourself considering a modification, consult with an experienced attorney who can provide you with the guidance you need to navigate this challenging journey.