At the time of a divorce, parties must agree on a divorce settlement before the dissolution can be finalized. The terms of a settlement may be something that the parties work out together or, if mediation fails, a judge will issue a court order. While the decision at the time of the divorce may seem fair and just, and may make sense based on the circumstances, people’s lives change. When circumstances change, what was fair and reasonable years ago may no longer be so today.

If you want to modify a divorce settlement, Attorney Heather M. Ward can help. Consider the following about post-divorce modifications in our state, and call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward directly for answers specific to your case.

What Types of Judgments Can Be Modified Post-Divorce?

While you may not be able to seek modification of a property division judgment, you may seek modification of a child custody arrangement, a child support order, or an alimony/spousal maintenance judgment. However, for a court to approve a modification request, one of two things must be true:

  • The other party agrees to the modification; or
  • Your modification request meets the legal requirements for a post-divorce modification.

What Happens if the Other Party Doesn’t Agree to the Modification?

The easiest way to modify a post-divorce order is to talk to the other party (your ex-spouse) and, if the other party agrees, you can file a joint petition to change a judgment. If the other party does not agree to the modification, however, then you must petition the court to reopen your case. To modify an existing court order, you must be able to prove that a substantial change in circumstances warrants the modification. 

What Is a Material and Substantial Change In Circumstances?

Unfortunately, a judge will not honor your request to change an alimony award, child support award, or child custody arrangement simply because you want the order to be changed; you must prove that a material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred that warrants the modification. While this may look slightly different depending on what type of order you’re seeking modification of, examples of a material and substantial change in circumstances include:

  • A party paying spousal support or child support suffers a disability that prevents them from earning at the same level they did prior to the disability;
  • The child starts spending more time at the other parent’s house, thereby eliminating the need for that parent to continue paying child support or pay child support at the same rate; or
  • An alimony-receiving party remarries or begins cohabitating with a romantic partner. 

Get Help from an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If you want to modify a divorce order, Massachusetts family law attorney, Heather M. Ward, can help. To learn more about post-divorce modifications, your rights, the process, and what you’ll need to prove in order to be effective, call the Law Office of Heather M. Ward today at (617) 903-8955.