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What is the process for modifying a divorce agreement?

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2022 | Divorce

Sometimes, one or both ex-spouses living in Massachusetts may not be entirely satisfied with the terms of their divorce. This dissatisfaction may come months or years after the final decree or settlement agreement, yet neither side continue living with terms that no longer work. Modifying a divorce agreement is possible if you go through an appeals process.

The divorce appeals process

Once the court has entered a divorce judgment, one or both spouses can start the appeals process. Settlement agreements can only be overturned if there is a problem with the original process or problems with enforcing the terms.

If you file an appeal, you must follow strict terms, as failure to follow could result in losing the appeal. Once you have done so, the record on appeal must be prepared. Next, the attorneys for both parties must file an appellate brief containing the legal argument for the filing. After this document is submitted, both sides in the case may get to present their oral arguments. Once this process has occurred, the appellate court takes 30 to 60 days to make a decision.

Even when you file a motion to modify a divorce decree, you may not receive the results you desire. When drafting this motion, you must show that circumstances have changed since the divorce was finalized.

Common reasons for modifying a divorce agreement

Common reasons to petition for modifications in divorce agreements involve changes in income. Valid reasons for changing a divorce agreement include:

  • Going on welfare or unemployment
  • Working less
  • Injuries and disability payments
  • Higher paying job

Either the paying or receiving spouse can petition for a change in child support or alimony agreements when a change in income occurs. Other changes, such as child custody, may be more challenging to achieve. When asking for divorce modifications, you must prove that substantial changes have occurred in your circumstances or that of your former spouse to necessitate the modification. Remember that if you are granted a modification, the change will only apply to the date the modification was filed.