Modification of Divorce Decree

As the years go by after a divorce, you may find yourself wanting to reopen your divorce decree and try to change a few things.  The most common aspects of a divorce decree that people want to change are spousal support payments and child support or other child care related issues.  A divorce with children is actually divided into two parts, there is the separation agreement that controls spousal support, retirements accounts, and how the couple divides their property and debts.  Then there is the shared parenting plan which controls child support, child custody, and all child related issues.  In general, the shared parenting plan is always subject to modification so long as certain legal standards are met.  A more complete discussion of how to modify your shared parenting plan and the legal standards involved can be found here.  

The separation agreement has a different legal standard that you have to meet if you want to try to change some terms, such as spousal support.

How to Change Spousal Support

You have to first look to your divorce decree and separation agreement to see if the court has continuing jurisdiction to hear post-decree spousal support actions.  The separation agreement itself may also list certain conditions for the termination or modification of spousal support.  If those things are listed then you may want to talk with a lawyer about filing a motion with the court to modify or terminate spousal support.  If the provision covering spousal support written in your divorce decree does not allow the court to have continuing jurisdiction or otherwise provide for the modification or termination of spousal support, then the legal standard for re-opening or changing the terms can be a bit more complicated.  

How to Change My Separation Agreement

The most common reason to try to re-open your divorce and change your separation agreement is to change your spousal support payment.  Some less common reasons include that the separation agreement did not proeprly list all assets, such as retirements accounts, or that after some time and reflection that you don't think you got a fair deal in the original divorce.

If you want to re-open your divorce in order to try to re-negotiate the terms of your property division, it is possible, but difficult to do.

Legal Standard To Re-Negotiate Property Division In Your Divorce Case

In order to try to re-negotiate the terms of your spousal support or other financial terms of your divorce you have to file a motion for relief from judgment.  A motion for relief from judgment is a request to the court to re-open your divorce case.  Once the divorce is opened back up, then you can try to redo certain financial aspects.  However, it is not an easy thing to do to just re-open and re-negotiate your divorce case.  You have to have very good reasons, such as your former spouse was hiding certain significant assets during your divorce and you only found out about them after the divorce was finalized.

The legal standard for being able to successfully re-open your divorce case is set out in Ohio Civil Rule 60 in the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure.  Each individual court may have their own unique spin and local rules on the process.  Because re-opening your divorce is not an easy thing to do, even with an attorney, you may want to consult with an attorney well experienced in post-decree modification in order to discuss your options and your chances.  The law firm of Harris & Engler has family law attorneys helping individuals in Columbus, Delaware, and greater Central Ohio.
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