Life is often unpredictable, and the ebbs and flows do not always fit with a rigid court order, especially one as important as your final decree of divorce. If a sudden or anticipated change in circumstances will impact those legal obligations, a post-divorce modification may be appropriate.
A divorce decree can be modified, either voluntarily by the parties or by litigation. Regardless, any modification will have to be approved by the judge under binding terms just like the original order. Anyone seeking a modification will require a material and substantial change in circumstances of one of the parties or the children. Scroggins Law Group advises parties regarding their new circumstances and can help them work toward having a post-divorce modification.
Whatever the reason the terms of your divorce decree require modification, parties requesting such an order need to show that their change in circumstances is substantial and material. As the desired modification affects custody and visitation, it must also be in the best interest of the child.
Spousal maintenance orders, child possession orders (commonly known as child custody orders), and child support orders are affected by changing circumstances. Other orders, like those calling for property division, cannot be modified. If you and your ex do not agree on a modification, you will need to file a petition with the court. Scroggins Law Group can help parties determine their rights to change an order and take the steps necessary to carry the changes out.
Under the Texas Family Code, situations like the death of a parent or a conviction for child abuse, are deemed “material and substantial” changes in circumstance. Other changes, like the remarriage of a parent or the needs of an aging child, may be material and substantial if the facts warrant. In those cases, the judge must determine the best interest of the child. In doing so, the court will consider factors such as the wishes of the child, their changing physical and emotional needs, the abilities of the parents to provide stability, and any action that could damage the parent-child relationship.
Fighting for a change in custody can be emotionally draining, but a Texas child custody lawyer can provide sensitive, yet clear-headed guidance. The attorneys at Scroggins Law Group, PLLC know the inner workings of the state’s family court system and are here to analyze your situation and determine your legal options.
Child support modifications may be based on material and substantial changes in the circumstances of the child or of either parent. Other bases for modification include changes in:
Situations like these involve a fact-specific analysis by the court so you will need to be prepared to offer evidence of why the change warrants modification. Talk to an experienced family law attorney at Scroggins Law Group to discuss factors that may impact child support in your case.
When changes impact a spouse’s ability to pay spousal support or the other spouse’s right to receive it, a post-divorce modification may be in order.
If a spouse who has been ordered to pay maintenance experiences a material and substantial change in circumstances such as job loss, serious illness, or disability that impacts their ability to pay, they may be entitled to a reduction in payments. On the other hand, if their income has increased, the receiving spouse may request an increase as well. Cohabitation and remarriage are other circumstances that may terminate the rights of the receiving spouse, though any payments in arrears will likely remain collectible.
Once a court enters a final order, it is reluctant to order a change without a compelling reason.
If you and your ex agree to changes, you can file a modification agreement subject to court approval. If you file a request for modification and your ex does not respond, the court may grant it by default. On the other hand, if the opposing party files an answer, the parties will litigate the matter. Litigation can require a substantial amount of time and may culminate in a trial at which time the parties will present evidence in support of or in opposition to the modification.
If you would like to learn more about your rights to a post-divorce decree modification, please schedule an initial consultation with an experienced member of the Scroggins Law Group. Partners Mark L. Scroggins and John H. Withers, Jr. are both *board certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Backed by the support of a committed team, their firm is among the state’s most experienced and skilled group of family lawyers in the state. Together, we will do our best to take on the matters standing in the way of having your post-divorce modification order granted. We look forward to hearing from you.
* Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
Texas Statutes, FAMILY CODE TITLE 1. THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP SUBTITLE C. DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE CHAPTER 9. POST-DECREE PROCEEDINGS SUBCHAPTER A. SUIT TO ENFORCE DECREE, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.9.htm
Texas Statutes, FAMILY CODE TITLE 5. THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP AND THE SUIT AFFECTING THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP SUBTITLE B. SUITS AFFECTING THE PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIP CHAPTER 156. MODIFICATION SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/docs/fa/htm/fa.156.htm
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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