Can I Change My Original Divorce Agreement?

Generally No. Of course this answer is dependent upon whether or not you entered into an agreed upon settlement contract. If you and your spouse reached an agreement and that agreement was memorialized into a contract that was then approved by the Court, (often referred to as a Martial Settlement Contract) the short answer is almost certainly no, you cannot change the terms of the contract unless it is by agreement.

However, issues related to children, like child support, custody and visitation can always me modified. The general rule is that the Courts always maintain control of issues related to children. In other words, a contractual agreement that states that the parties shall share joint custody is not permanent. Either party can always ask the Court to modify that agreement based upon a change in circumstances. Accordingly, they can file a motion to modify this, regardless of whether the parties entered into a settlement contract

Issues related to the distribution of property can almost never be modified. The only time property distribution can be modified is when the Court makes an order as to the distribution of property, after a contested trial.

If this is the case, you have limited time to seek a modification and you must contact your attorney expeditiously. Generally you will file, a Motion for Reconsideration or to Vacate. Essentially, you are requesting a family court judge to review his or her previously issued decision in order to make a change in light of newly discovered evidence, an issue of fraud, or a mistake of law. This is a very tough motion to prosecute successfully.

Likewise, Alimony is almost never modifiable, as 99% of the time, the parties agree to a contractual term of non-modifiable Alimony. If your Alimony is contrafactual in nature, then you almost certainly can not modify it. However, if the Judge awarded alimony, after a contested trial, then it is non contractual in nature and always subject to modification, by both the recipient and the payor. In order to modify, you need to show a change in circumstances.

Whether you’ve lost your job and need to request lower support payments or you wish to alter your custody arrangement, modifications may be made to your original divorce agreement. You should consult with an attorney to make sure that is possible.

We’re here to help you navigate the different avenues for modification of your divorce agreement and help you file the necessary paperwork and negotiate an outcome. For experienced guidance you can rely on, please contact our office today.