If there is one constant in life, it is change. And although a dissolution of marriage decree is the starting point for your post-divorce arrangements, it may likely need to be altered or amended in order to reflect your current living situation.
A dissolution of marriage decree remains in effect as it is written unless it is modified in a subsequent proceeding. To get a modification, one must petition the court for a modification of an existing decree of custody order.
Why Modify a Divorce Decree?
Parties to custody and support orders often feel overwhelmed as they experience changes in their life circumstances. Whether it involves children growing older and no longer needing the arrangement they once had, or other living conditions that change – such as remarriage – modification is simply a part of the post-divorce process.
To prevent decrees from becoming ineffective and burdensome, it’s up to the parties involved to keep the court aware and up-to-date on current living circumstances.
What Changes Call for Modification?
Although there is a nearly unlimited number of reasons for modification, some of the most common examples include:
- Losing a job or losing significant work hours
- Losing health insurance and other benefits
- Becoming disabled or incompetent
Essentially, any major life change that affects the personal and financial stability of either party may affect the current arrangements.
So what can be modified? Any aspect of the dissolution of marriage decree, including:
- Child support
- Spousal maintenance
- Legal custody
- Parenting time
Courts are ordinarily reluctant to modify a custody order unless both parents agree to the change, or one parent becomes incapacitated or abuses the child.
Parenting time orders are somewhat easier to modify than legal custody orders; however, these changes are also easiest to make if both parents agree to them.
Other reasons for post-divorce modifications include neglect or failure to disclose pertinent information during the divorce process. If, for example, one spouse withheld financial information or assets during the divorce process, this could result in future modifications if the information came to light.
Modifications can also be made if a termination of support is necessary, which may be the case if a child has emancipated, or one party has entered into a new financial situation that does not require the other party to provide support.
The Importance of Divorce Modifications
The significance of modifications cannot be overstated. Because divorce decrees have such an impact on each party’s personal and financial lives, it’s important to keep the court informed of each party’s situation, and to avoid arrangements that are financially damaging to either party.
Additionally, if modifications are made informally, as a verbal agreement between parties, this may not be legally enforceable, and any failure to heed to the original decree may result in additional legal issues.
Get Help with Divorce Modifications in Arizona
Modifying any custody, parenting time or support order is always easier with the assistance of a qualified family law attorney. At JacksonWhite Law, we pride ourselves on offering clients the most detailed and committed legal services available.
We can help you petition the court for a modification, and help you fully understand your legal options when it comes to post-divorce changes.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.