Can you change the determinations made in a divorce if circumstances change? How? 15 Answers as of July 09, 2015

If someone uses the same divorce attorney and the divorce becomes final, can the terms be changed later? For instance, they said they would share custody of the children, but every time it's my brother's turn to have the kids for the weekend, his ex-wife comes up with a reason why she needs to keep them. Can he get custody in writing even though the divorce is already final? Also, his child and alimony payments were determined on his last two years of work. He has since lost his job and the ex-wife makes more than he does. Can you and how do you adjust the required monthly payments? He "owes" her $5000/month but doesn't have a job. How is he supposed to pay this? Thank you for any help you can provide. Signed, a worried sister.

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S. Joseph Schramm | Joseph Schramm
Custody and visitation rights and obligations are not necessarily set in stone after a divorce becomes final and either parent can still seek recourse through the courts to modify or to enforce the existing terms defining the parties's rights and obligations. Under the circumstances you describe your brother could seek either to have the present terms enforced through a petition for contempt or seek to change primary custody. In either case he should retain counsel to represent him.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 7/9/2015
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
Yes, but a Petition to change custody or child support must be filed and the other party served with process.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 7/9/2015
Law Offices of Helene Ellenbogen, P.S.H | Helene Ellenbogen
If the parenting plan says he has the kids and she doesn't produce them, he needs to file a motion for contempt. To make any changes in the alimony and child support he has to make a motion to the court to show why he can't pay as ordered.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/9/2015
Law Office of Martin A. Kahan | Martin A. Kahan
The orders can be changed upon a showing of a significant change in circumstances.Consult with a family law attorney so they can analyze the facts and circumstances.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/9/2015
Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane | Lauren H. Kane
You would have to review the property settlement agreement for guidance as to how changes would be addressed.
Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
Replied: 7/8/2015
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock
    Law Offices of Arlene D. Kock | Arlene D. Kock
    The court has continuing jurisdiction over child parenting as well as support issues. Any time there's been a change of circumstances, it is justified to return to court to ask for modifications in those orders. Your relative should meet with an experienced family law attorney to review the last court orders and determine his best legal options.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    He need to hire an attorney and file for a modification. If she no longer needs the alimony, it may be possible to either reduce or terminate it. As for timesharing with the children, there should already be a schedule in place that she is supposed to abide by. If she's not, then we could file for contempt and enforcement. If there isn't one, then that would be part of the modification. Everything can get filed and determined simultaneously.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Law Office of Barton R. Resnicoff | Barton R. Resnicoff
    You raise issues concerning modifications in two areas, support and custody/visitation. Both are subject to modification based upon a change in circumstances. Custody can always be modified if it is in the child(ren)'s best interests and it is an obligation of the primary residential parent to encourage and permit a relationship with the other parent. Failure to do so can be considered a reason to totally change custody; although modification or punishment for enforcement is also an option. Child support can be changed if there is a change in income of either party of more than 15%(there are other statutory reasons that a modification can be requested); spousal support is slightly different, but can also be modified based upon a change in circumstances. Finally, there is no need to have the same attorney represent the party requesting the modification; sometimes, it can help having an attorney already familiar with the facts be retained again.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Petit & Dommershausen SC
    Petit & Dommershausen SC | Tajara Dommershausen
    Yes, if there is a substantial change in circumstances he can ask the court for a modification. That modification can only go back to the date of service so the faster he files the motion the better.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Diane l. Berger | Diane L. Berger
    Child support, child custody and alimony can all be modified. There has to be a change in circumstances not anticipated at the time of the entry of the Decree. So, in this case, if your brother thought they had agreed on the times he was to have the children and his former wife is not abiding by that agreement, that is a change in circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Law Office of Robert E McCall | Robert McCall
    He needs to speak with an attorney about a Petition to Modify the Final Judgment?
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Your brother obviously needs to engage an attorney. If there is an order regarding custody it may be necessary that a new one, with detailed parenting time, be placed into effect. That will require a motion before the divorce court. As to your other question, his losing his job is clearly a change in circumstances and he should be immediately contacting a friend of the court, again most preferably with an attorney, for an adjustment. Until he does so there will be no change and he will continue to accrue the obligation at the previously set rate. Changes in support are not retroactive beyond the date that the motion for change is filed, so he had better get on with it or he is going to be obligated for the original amount currently ordered even though he does not have a job.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Mediation Services of Southwest Florida
    Mediation Services of Southwest Florida | Dennis J. Leffert, J.D.
    He can go back to court and ask the judge to enforce the agreement. At the same time he can also ask the judge to change the agreement by giving him custody. Taking both approaches at the same time will show his former wife that she needs to comply.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Law Offices of Julie A. Ringquist | Julie A. Ringquist
    File a Request for Orders modifying the previous orders. Child Custody, Visitation, and Child Support are always modifiable based on a change of circumstances. Spousal Support may or may not be modifiable, depending on how it was written in their Judgment. See your lawyer about the needed changes.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/8/2015
    Richard B. Jacobson & Associates, LLC | Richard B. Jacobson
    First things first: he should retain an experienced family law attorney. That lawyer will likely tell him that he can move the court to amend the judgment as regards custody and child support. Needless to say, he must have good reasons, and in the case of custody, if a final order was entered less than 2 years ago, he not only has to demonstrate that the change is in the children's best interest, and that circumstances have changed, but also that it is necessary in the children's best interest. An experienced matrimonial lawyer can be of tremendous help in clearing away the cobwebs and helping get changes made.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 7/8/2015
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