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Can You Tweak Your Divorce Decree After the Fact?

Wondering if you can make changes to your divorce decree?

Here’s the scoop on what can (and can’t) be modified post-divorce.

So, you’ve crossed the finish line and got your divorce decree in hand. You might be feeling a whole cocktail of emotions right now – relief, sadness, maybe even a bit of “what the heck just happened?” And then, the million-dollar question hits you: “Can I change any of this stuff?” Whether it’s because you’ve stumbled upon new info, your circumstances took a 180, or you’re just second-guessing some decisions, let’s dive into what’s up for grabs and what’s set in stone.

  1. Who keeps the cash? (AKA Property Division): Alright, let’s talk about who keeps the car, the house, and that IRA. Generally, once the ink’s dry on who gets what, that’s pretty much it. But, and it’s a big but, if you’ve unearthed some hidden treasures or realized that Aunt Sally’s vase collection didn’t make it into the mix, you might have a shot at a redo. If that’s the case, don’t dilly-dally. Time’s not your friend here, and you’ll need to chat with a lawyer pronto to see if you can rejig the division.
  2. Child Support Shuffle: Here’s where things get a bit more flexible. Child support isn’t set in stone. If there’s a significant change in circumstances – think income changes, health insurance, daycare costs, or even the kiddo’s needs – you might be due for an adjustment. And hey, don’t forget, the guidelines for child support get a facelift every few years. So, if it’s been a minute, it might be worth checking in to see if you’re in line for a change.
  3. Who Calls the Shots? (Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time): Feeling like the current setup isn’t cutting it? You’ve got options. If it’s been a year since your last order, you can petition for a change. If your ex is playing fast and loose with the agreed plan, you might be able to push for a change sooner. And if you’re just looking to tweak a few details, asking for a clarification might do the trick. Can’t see eye to eye with your ex? A parenting coordinator could help smooth things over.
  4. Alimony Adjustments: Spousal support can be a bit of a wild card. Whether or not you can tweak it depends on your original agreement. If you both shook hands on a no-change clause, you might be stuck. But if the judge left the door open for adjustments, changes in circumstances could mean changes in support. Just remember, if you’re the one asking for the change, you’ve got to prove why it’s needed.
  5. Everything Else: Got a beef with something else in the decree? Some things might not be “modifiable,” but you could have a shot at an appeal. This is lawyer territory, so if you’re thinking of going down this road, get some legal advice to see if it’s worth pursuing.

Thinking about tweaking your divorce decree isn’t as out there as you might think. Life happens, things change, and the law gets that. Whether it’s child support, parenting time, or even spousal maintenance, there are paths to making adjustments. Sure, it might seem like a headache, but with the right help and a bit of know-how, you can navigate the post-divorce waters like a pro. Need a hand figuring it all out? We’re here to help.


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