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Can you modify your divorce decree?

Modifying your divorce decree might be necessary for a number of reasons. Maybe you need to change the custody arrangements you have in place or the arrangements for financial support. This is fairly normal, and it's common for divorce situations involving young children to result in modifications throughout the child's life until the age of 18.

Sometimes, these changes will be informal. They may be things like accepting a trade instead of a child support payment or lowering a payment when a parent loses work or has a lower income. The issue with that is that informal changes aren't recorded, and that could lead to problems later if the parents get into an argument. For example, if you say the other parent can pay you less but later decide you want the full amount, the original court order will stand.

A better decision is to use a court-approved modification of the divorce decree to set a new amount for child support in a case where a parent loses income. This modification can be applied in a variety of cases, too, without the need for going to trial or having a hearing. If both parties and their attorneys sign the orders and present them to a judge, this is typically enough to modify the divorce decree.

If the parties can't agree to a change that one party wants to make, then the facts will need to be presented to a judge. That judge will then decide if the order should be modified, and if so, by how much and if the requests made are fair.

Source: FindLaw, "Information About Modifying Your Divorce Decree," accessed June 08, 2016

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