It depends on the terms of your divorce agreement. If it was a surviving agreement, then the Court cannot modify it except under extraordinary circumstances such as fraud. For provisions that merge the Agreement into the Judgment, not only can you modify it, often it is necessary to do so it as your circumstances change. Provisions that always survive relate to property and liability division. Provisions that can merge or survive generally relate to alimony and health insurance for the parties. Provisions that relate to the children (custody, parenting time, child support, health insurance coverage, payment of extracurricular activities or uninsured medical expenses, college contribution, etc.).
To modify a merging provision, the moving party generally has to show that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the entry of the Judgment approving the agreement. For child support, a moving party only has to the show that the amount being paid is different from the child support guidelines in the combined income of the parties is less than $250,000.00. For income over $250,000.00, there has to be a material change in circumstances as well. For changes in custody or a parenting plan, the moving party also needs to show that the change is in the best interests of the child. Either party can request a modification to reduce or increase support payments or to change parenting plan specifications.
The status of your case, as well as the type of change requested, will determine how you facilitate modifications. One method is through a Complaint for Modification. Another is to negotiate a change (directly, through mediation or the collaborative law process) in advance of filing and to file a Joint Petition to Modify asking that such be approved administratively.
Whether you’ve lost your job and need to request lower support payments or you wish to alter your custody arrangement, modifications can be made to the merged provisions of your original divorce agreement.
We’re here to help you navigate the different avenues for modification of your divorce agreement and help you file the necessary paperwork to get your amendments made. Berid & Schutzbank, LLC can also help parties mediate these issues. For experienced guidance you can rely on, please contact our office today.