What Are Divorce Decree Modifications?

Consultation with divorce lawyer over modifications

The process of filing and subsequently finalizing a divorce can be a lengthy one. By the time a couple’s divorce has been finalized, they may have gone to multiple mediations regarding issues like division of assets, child custody, child support payments, and alimony. Divorce decrees are based on the agreements achieved during these mediations, but circumstances change over time. When a substantial shift occurs that affects one or more of the terms of the original divorce decree, a modification may be necessary.

How to Modify Divorce Decrees?

 Should a person’s income, relationships, medical history, assets, and more change without warning, the original divorce decree may need to be modified in order to properly represent the current situation of both parties, as well as any children involved. A divorce decree modification is a legal amendment made to the original divorce decree. Once a modification is in place, it essentially “updates” the original divorce decree to reflect the recent amendment. Divorce decree modifications are extremely common and individuals can modify various circumstances of their existing arrangements for numerous reasons.

Common Modifications 

The most common modifications to divorce decrees involve child or spousal support and child custody. A party can file to modify a decree as early as a year after the decree is finalized. Texas family law generally favors granting modifications when a substantial change has occurred for either a spouse/partner or child involved in the decree. 

Child Custody Modifications

Determining child custody is one of the most stressful but crucial aspects of a divorce with minor children. Any time children are involved, their wellbeing and best interests should come before anything else. When a lifestyle change occurs for a parent, a child custody modification may be needed to ensure a child’s best interest remains at the forefront. Texas family law refers to custody of a child as possession, and the parent with which the child lives and who thus receives child support is the managing conservator. The parent who has a visitation schedule and pays child support is referred to as the possessory conservator.

Child Support

The parent who maintains the residence of the child, also known as the managing conservator, receives child support payments in an amount determined in the original divorce decree that is typically based on income and other financial factors. Texas family law allows for a child support modification when a substantial and material change has occurred for either parent since the order was finalized or in the case of a decree with prior modifications, three years since it was last rendered.

Spousal Support

In certain circumstances, monthly payments from one ex-spouse to the other can be ordered. In Texas, spousal support or alimony monthly payments could be ordered if a marriage lasted for longer than 10 years or if there was a history of domestic violence within two years of the initial divorce filing. In addition, an ex-spouse can obtain financial support should he or she have a disability preventing them from working or if they are caring for a child with special needs.

Texas Divorce Attorneys

Divorces can be complex legal battles. The various factors influencing the amount of a child support award, alimony, and child custody schedule should be carefully reviewed in order to protect all parties involved. If your divorce, custody, or child support terms need modifying, you likely have a lot of important questions and concerns. Contact the team at Terry & Roberts to discuss your case today.

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