Even after a divorce decree is finalized, situations may arise that call for a post-decree modification. The idea is simple enough; life changes may require changes to the divorce decree. However, the process of petitioning the court can be complex. Would-be petitioners are highly encouraged to arrange a consultation with an attorney experienced in post-decree modifications and Arizona family law.
When Are Post-decree Modifications Necessary?
After a divorce, there are many reasons either party might pursue a post-decree modification. Oftentimes, both parties come to an arrangement that works better than the decree did, and want to make it official. There are, of course, many reasons only one party seeks a modification. Changes to income or employment, one parent moving out of state, and remarriage are examples of these reasons. Another time parties seek modification is when crucial data was not included in the original decree, whether that omission was intentional or accidental.
What Changes Qualify for Modification?
Parties may request modification of any aspect of the divorce decree, but the more common requests are changes to child or spousal support and custody agreements. Typically, one of the parties experiences a major life change instigating such a request. Employment changes such as losing a job or moving to a part-time schedule, or possibly a promotion or significant raise, may indicate changes to support are in order. This is also true if one partner becomes disabled. In Arizona, if any of these circumstances fall under the heading of”substantial and continuing,” it qualifies for modification. Changes to financial support are only considered if the amount paid will increase or decrease by at least 15 percent.
A modification is not only permissible but also recommended if one party neglected to include important information before the divorce decree, such as information relating to a 401(k) plan.
Is it Okay to Ignore a Court Order?
If both parties agree, actions at variance with a divorce decree are permissible and even common, particularly in cases of scheduled parenting time. The goal, though, is to have some sort of formalized document in place that protects both parties in the event today’s amicable post-divorce relationship becomes tomorrow’s antagonistic one. A written agreement, preferably signed and notarized, protects both parties. This agreement may also be usable to support the creation of a formal post-decree modification.
Work with a Mesa Attorney Experienced in Arizona Family Law
With all the changes life throws at us, divorce decree modifications are common. If you are considering this complex process, schedule a consultation with Edwards & Petersen today. We have the background and knowledge in Arizona family law to guide you through the process.