Alabama Lawyers for Modification of Child Custody, Child Support & Alimony
A divorce decree is a legally binding contract. If there is a change in your life circumstances impacting your divorce agreements, you will need modifications in this contract. It is possible to petition to modify or appeal your divorce settlement at any time. However, you will need to convince a judge that the modification is beneficial to all parties involved, especially children.
The following types of circumstances may determine the difficulty of divorce order modifications in AL:
If both the parties agree to the change, you will need to sign and file an Amended Settlement Agreement. A judge may agree to this and sign without a hearing. However, if the requested change is complicated or extensive, or it is not clear why it is necessary, the judge may hold a hearing for both parties.
If only one ex-spouse seeks a change in the divorce agreement, they will need to file a Petition to Modify the Decree. Afterward, both parties will need to attend a hearing during which the plaintiff (petitioner) will state their case, and the other spouse may refute the argument. The judge will consider the arguments of both sides and either deny or approve the petition.
Most requests to change a divorce agreement end up before the judge who decided on the divorce initially. If the couple went through an uncontested divorce, and the modification request is rational to an agreement that the divorcing parties worked out by themselves previously, and the judge will likely approve the changes. But if the judge drafted the settlement agreement in a contested divorce, you will need to proffer compelling reasons for the judge to change their mind about what is suitable in your case.
You and/or your former spouse will need to convince a judge to alter their previous decision. Further, if you and your ex are not on the same page regarding the proposed modifications, you will need to argue against the other party and convince a judge that such a change is necessary.
Regardless of how straightforward your modification request seems, changing the contract that sets your divorce terms is an important legal matter. Before you decide to proceed, it is best to consult an experienced AL divorce modification attorney at the law offices of Smith & McGhee.
Change of Circumstances and Modification
The terms of a divorce order are binding, but they aren’t set in stone. Modification of these terms is possible. The court order for a change is known as a “modification” in AL. In effect, you can pursue a modification at any time following the last order.
Importantly, the former spouse seeking the change (called the “movant”) must typically prove that a “substantial change of circumstances” has happened since the original divorce agreement came into play.
In cases where the court agrees that a change is required, it will not approve a modification without significant change. The law considers no sense in allowing one or both parties to subject the court system, the former spouse, and the children to a repetition of the initial trial without proof of substantial new developments.
Changes in Property Order in an AL Divorce
Modifications in the distribution of property after an AL divorcer are generally not possible. This varies from custody, child support, and visitation, all of which can be changed post-divorce. If you feel that you entered into a financially detrimental deal in an uncontested divorce, you need to act fast to change it.
If the final divorce order is still pending, you must file a motion to set aside an agreement. To achieve this, you will have to provide a solid reason to set it aside. Agreements will only be set aside for collusion, fraud, surprise, accident, or similar grounds.
Evidence Necessary for Child Custody Order Modification in AL
Under AL law, order modification is possible if you prove the following:
- The best interest of the child will be materially promoted via a custody modification
- A material change in the circumstances has taken place after the previous order on child custody
- The changes in custody will be beneficial enough to offset the disruptive effect resulting from custody modification
Avoid Informal Agreements instead of Divorce Modifications
Many former spouses who remain amicable with each other work out informal agreements to alter the rules of their divorce as required. For instance, ex-spouses may alter child support payments, child custody plans, or property division.
However, such informal agreements can be dangerous. There is nothing to prevent one spouse from changing their mind later on and going back on the agreement, causing serious challenges for the other party.
We at Smith & McGhee always advise clients to remain within the bounds of their divorce settlement, as determined by the courts. The requirements from each party and prohibitions will be clearly outlined in your divorce decree. Your divorce lawyer can answer any questions that you may have based on documented facts, not verbal discussions between former spouses.
Consult our competent family law attorneys about the best way to proceed, whether you seek changes in alimony, child support, or child custody. Do not put your interests at risk by ignoring the rules without thinking about the legal implications in the future.
Developing a Strong Case for Modification
If you display model behavior, it will significantly enhance your petition for modification, especially in custody order modification cases. Remember, good behavior should include a serious attempt to resolve any conflict or grievance amicably via correspondence (if possible), which can ensure you have a documented record. Don’t go to court with a relatively minor or premature complaint. If you seem to be reactionary, the sympathies of the court may lie with the other party.
However, a petition to modify may be the way forward if an amicable approach has not yielded results. Unless your health or safety concerns prevent you from doing so, it is best only to wait long enough to ensure that a robust record or evidence of violations is available. Armed with this evidence, you can make a solid case for modifications with legal assistance from our seasoned divorce order modification attorneys.
Committed Legal Team in Alabama for Post-Divorce Modifications
At the law offices of Smith & McGhee, we have successfully handled countless post-divorce modification cases in AL. We have clients from all over, including places such as Madison, Jefferson, and Shelby counties. We possess a keen comprehension of all salient issues related to post-divorce modifications and work hard for you at every stage of the process. For a free consultation with a skilled divorce modification attorney, call today at (334) 702-1744.