Since typically at least 95% of cases settle rather than go to trial, most parties will ultimately have a settlement agreement resolving all issues in their divorce. These settlements often benefit both parties in many ways, as it allows the divorce to end quickly, with less cost to the parties, particularly the cost of a trial, and allows them to keep a certain amount of control over their future. When a settlement is entered into, it will then become part of the court’s order in the divorce, and is binding just like the other parts of the court order. When one party decides that the agreement is no longer to his or her liking, it will be necessary to ask the court for a modification of the agreement.
When you are seeking modification of custody, parenting time or support aspects of an agreement or court order, you are required to demonstrate that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred from the time that the order was entered. The spouse seeking to change the order has to prove that the circumstances have changed so much that there is a sufficient reason to modify the provision you are seeking to modify. With respect to support issues, a change in circumstances could be a sudden change in one’s health that has affected his or her ability to work, or it could be that one party’s income has increased dramatically. With respect to custody, a change in circumstances due to the children’s age alone is generally not a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant revisiting the parenting arrangement. A partly normally needs to demonstrate specific reasons why the child’s best interest is no longer served by the original arrangement. These are very subjective to the particular circumstances of your case.
It is important to note that equitable distribution set forth in a settlement agreement cannot be modified based upon a showing of changed circumstances. This only occurs in very rare circumstances in which one party can demonstrate fraud.
After divorce, it is common for needs to change. If you are considering modifying your divorce agreement or your former spouse has filed to change it, you need an experienced attorney. Contact us today at (732) 479-4711 to talk about your case and your future.