At the time that a couple divorces, there are dozens of things they’ll need to think about and resolve—many of them not just logistical, but legal matters. For example, a final divorce judgment will need to address things like division of property, spousal support, and child custody and support if the couple has children.
Recognizing that circumstances change, some divorce judgments can be modified at a later date. Here’s what you should know about post-judgment modification in Massachusetts, and how Attorney Heather M. Ward can help.
What Types of Family Law Judgments Can Be Modified?
Nearly all elements of a divorce judgment can be modified at a later date, with the exception of one thing: property division. Once a property division judgment has been issued, it is almost always a final and binding decision. As such, you can petition the court to change your spousal support award, child support amount, or child custody award, but you cannot seek modification of a property division judgment post-divorce.
What Are the Grounds for a Post-Judgment Modification in a Massachusetts Divorce?
You cannot seek a modification of a post-divorce judgment simply because you disagree with the court’s decision or what something to change; instead, you must be able to prove that a significant change in circumstances occurred. Consider the following examples of changes in circumstances for various issues in a divorce:
- Child custody—The custodial parent has suffered a physical or mental illness/disability that now renders them incapable of providing care to the child full-time.
- Spousal support—The party receiving support has experienced a major change in financial circumstances and now has a significantly higher income than they did at the time of the divorce judgment.
- Child support—The party paying support has lost their job or has changed jobs, resulting in a significant decrease in salary that is expected to remain relatively constant for the foreseeable future.
Of course, the above are just a few examples. If both parties agree to the modification, then the court will almost surely approve it. If only one party wants the modification, though, the burden will be on that party to prove that a significant change in circumstances has occurred, and that the change justifies a modification to the divorce judgment.
Why You Need an Experienced Family Law Attorney
In cases where both parties are in agreement, seeking a modification of a family court order is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, when parties disagree, the process can be much more contentious and complex. When you work with an attorney, your attorney will advise you as to whether your judgment is modifiable, whether or not your request for modification fits the grounds the court is looking for, and how to best prepare your case for success.
Call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward Today
At the Law Office of Heather M. Ward, our experienced family law attorney can provide support and representation if you are seeking—or fighting against—a post-divorce modification. Reach out to our law firm today at (617) 903-8955 or send us a message online to request a consultation.