Accessible, reliable advice and advocacy
For more than 33 years, the Varga Law Offices has counseled and advocated for Delaware County families. We have seen that family law concerns are rarely completely resolved in the divorce settlement because circumstances and goals change as time goes on. When life circumstances change, people also expect to be able to change their agreements. However, your former spouse may not agree that the change is necessary or that it is in his or her best interest. In situations like these, an experienced attorney can advocate to protect your parental rights and the best interests of your children.
What is a post-judgment modification?
When your divorce becomes final, the parties either agree to terms in a marital settlement agreement or the court issues an equitable distribution order and Divorce Decree stating that the marriage is dissolved and which also includes the disposition of property. In addition, the Order and Decree, may also settle alimony, spousal support, child custody, and child support. Any other related issues are dealt with separately and can be concluded prior to the entry of a Final Decree in Divorce. A post judgment, or decree modification is required when you want to change an aspect of your divorce agreement. However, an agreement can be changed only if the change in circumstances is significant which rarely occurs. While not all aspects of the agreement can be modified, child custody, child support, parenting time and alimony may be changed.
Numerous circumstances require a change in child custody or child support following a divorce. Sometimes one parent must relocate for work. Relocation can fundamentally alter the parents’ ability to share custody and may require a new agreement that respects the changed circumstances. Similarly, health issues can reduce a parent’s ability to work or care for the children. If one parent develops a chronic health issue, the original settlement agreement may no longer be practical or possible.
What is the process to obtain a modification?
The process to secure a modification is similar in each case, but the length and difficulty of the process largely depends on how well the former spouses can cooperate. If both parents agree on the proposed change, modifying an agreement without the court is possible. However, you run the risk that the court may not decide to enforce the modification unless your new agreement is reduced to writing and becomes a Court Order.
If the parents do not agree on the modification, then one parent must file a petition, or written request, with the court. The petition must show a significant change of circumstances in the area of child support that requires the change or, in child custody, that the current order or agreement is no longer in the child’s best interests. For example, an original custodial parent significantly alters his or her lifestyle and begins working nights leaving his or her young child home alone. This substantial change in circumstances negatively affects the welfare of the child. Therefore, it would likely be in the best interest of the child to modify the original agreement. The modification itself must put the best interest of the child first.
Work with a Media, PA family law firm to take charge of your future
If your child support or child custody circumstances have changed since your divorce became final, the Varga Law Offices can advocate on your behalf. Call us today at 610.892.9909 or contact us online. Conveniently located near the county courthouse, our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday or by appointment.