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When a divorce is finalized in North Carolina, both parties go their separate ways and agree to meet the terms outlined in their Court Order or Separation Agreement. Arrangements for child custody, child support, or spousal support are intended to be in effect for many years after a divorce. However, we all know that life circumstances can change. When these changes are significant, one or both spouses can seek a post divorce modification.
If your situation has changed after your divorce, it’s important to understand your options, when to pursue a modification, and why a lawyer is necessary to help you get the results you need.
A post divorce modification, sometimes referred to as a post-judgment modification, occurs when one spouse seeks to modify the terms of a Court Order or Separation Agreement. These terms may be related to child custody, child support, spousal support, or a combination of the three.
The purpose of a post divorce modification is to adjust the terms of the Court Order or Agreement so that it aligns with the current needs and lives of all parties, including the children.
When a Court enters a permanent Order, the terms are generally set in stone, but there are some circumstances in which an Order can be modified.
Either spouse can file a decree modification at any time, but the modification must be warranted. The burden of proof lies on the person seeking the modification.
A modification may be approved if:
Life can be unpredictable. A substantial material change in your life may warrant a change in the terms of your Order, such as:
Major life changes may make it difficult to meet the terms of the Order. However, a modification may allow the parties to come to more agreeable and feasible terms.
If assets were uncovered after the equitable distribution order or property settlement was finalized, there might be grounds to modify the terms or set the order or settlement aside, but only in limited situations and the law here is very complex.
Several areas of a divorce can be modified. Some of the most common modifications include:
Involuntary income changes due to job loss, salary reduction, illness, disability, or another hardship may warrant child support changes.
Depending on the circumstances, child support modifications may be temporary or permanent.
Child custody arrangements may need to change for a variety of reasons including:
Over time, the financial circumstances of either spouse may change. For example, a paying spouse may lose their job through no fault of their own. If the paying spouse is unable to afford spousal support payments, a modification may be needed.
If the receiving spouse remarries or cohabits, spousal support payments will be terminated.
Although extremely rare in North Carolina, a Court Order or Agreement for asset division can be set aside, but only in limited situations, such as fraud, newly discovered evidence, or duress.
Have you experienced a major change in your life circumstances since your orders were entered? Maybe you lost your job, had to move, or your income has been reduced. Maybe a medical condition or illness has left you with a mountain of medical debt and an uncertain employment future.
If it’s becoming difficult or impossible to meet the terms of your orders, it may be time to request a modification. A Cary post divorce modification lawyer can help.
Modification is a complex process and one that requires the help of an experienced attorney. Informal agreements between ex-spouses are not enforceable. Modifications should be in writing. If you have a court order, you will need a new one to reflect the modification. If you have a written agreement, you will need an amendment that is signed and notarized. Getting these modifications and amendments done right can be a challenge without the help of a lawyer.
The burden of proof lies on the person seeking the modification. A lawyer specializing in modification will know how to build your case and provide the necessary proof to satisfy the court. A lawyer will also ensure that the modification is an accurate reflection of your current life situation.
Triangle Smart Divorce has the knowledge and experience to guide you through this process. To learn more about modification and to schedule a consultation, contact us today.
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