At the conclusion of a divorce, the parties are issued a final decree of
dissolution which is a set of court orders that define the terms of the
divorce. These terms are legally binding and failure to abide by them
can result in
enforcement actions with tough penalties for noncompliance. Many of the terms of the
final decree are, however, anything but final. It is often possible for
either party to request a formal modification to certain terms of the
divorce, such as child support, spousal support, child custody, and visitation.
In any of these matters, the judge will want to see evidence that there
has been a substantial change of circumstances that make it necessary
to modify the existing court orders. If your former spouse is opposed
to the modification, it is still possible to persuade the
family law judge to rule in your favor. Even if the other party agrees to the modification,
it will still be necessary to make a formal change to the court order
because a verbal agreement will not be legally enforceable.
Some of the most common types of post-decree modifications involve the
orders governing payment of
child support and
spousal support. These are commonly requested by the party who is responsible for paying,
typically when he or she has suffered a job loss or pay cut that makes
it impossible to sustain the payment obligation. The support recipient
may also request a modification for similar reasons, as well as if the
children's financial needs for education, healthcare, or similarly important
matters have changed.
Parental Relocation with Children
Another common example of a situation that requires a modification to court
orders is when one of the parents has decided to move away to another
city or state. When the parents share
child custody or if one parent has been awarded rights of
visitation, the parent who is planning to move will often have to get a modification
to the existing custody arrangement. You will have to provide the other
parent with written notice of your intent to relocate, including the proposed
location, the reasons for your move, and your proposal for a new plan
of custody and visitation.
Under Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-129 (2012), "Modification
of parenting time," the court will review the planned relocation
to determine whether it would be in the
best interests of the children. Modification may not be necessary for a local move, such as from one
side of town to another, but if you are moving to Pueblo, Parker, Denver,
or even further away, you will most likely have to address this issue
first. The other parent may contest the move on the grounds that it would
be contrary to the children's best interests.
What Does the Court Consider "Valid Grounds" for Modification?
Being upset with how things are going is not enough reason for the court
to review your case and accept modifications. There must have occurred
at least one of a few life events that are deemed significant enough to
warrant modifying a court order.
Remarriage: If your ex-spouse marries someone else, that’s good news for their
romantic life and good news for you if you were paying them regular alimony.
Remarriage does not guarantee, however, that child support will stop or reduce.
Unforeseen job loss: Economic downturns can catch the best companies by surprise. If you lost
your job without warning and without severance, you should consider immediately
filing for court order modifications. You could either reduce the amount
of alimony you pay, or increase the amount that you receive.
Maturity: Child support payments will end if your youngest child shared with your
ex-spouse turns 19, marries, or joins the military. You can, of course,
use a modification to prevent this cancelation if you feel it is necessary.
Mutual agreement: It can be astounding how much can be accomplished when you and your ex-spouse
cooperate. If this is a possibility, the two of you can file a modification
to virtually any court order together and should be given approval.
An attorney from Clawson & Clawson, LLP can meet with you for a free
consultation to determine whether you need to request a formal modification,
after which we can assist you with the entire process of your petition.
Contact our firm now to discuss the matter and get started on your case.