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Is a finalized divorce agreement really final?

You went through the divorce process in Illinois. When all was said and done, you were happy with how it worked out and were just ready to move on. Well, months or years down the line you have realized that your divorce agreement really is not working for you. Is there anything you can do about it? Is your final agreement really final?

Thankfully, you may be able to get your divorce agreement changed. Post-decree modifications are possible if the circumstances are just right.

How to get a post-decree modification

It is not uncommon for some parents to feel that their child support or custody schedules are unfair or not working. Moreover, it is common for a spouse who is receiving or paying alimony to question how much the court ordered. One spouse may feel as though the terms of a property division settlement were less than ideal. No matter the issue, it may be possible to renegotiate the terms of divorce.

Anyone seeking a post-decree modification can go about it in one of two ways. The former spouses can try to negotiate new terms privately or one can file a motion for term modification in court. If you handle the matter without going to court, the revised terms will still need court approval before coming active.

If the issue goes to court…

If the issue goes to court because you and your ex cannot agree to new terms, a judge will look at a number of factors before issuing a new court order or denying your request. Generally, a substantial change of circumstances is needed for a judge to consider modifying spousal support, child support or custody orders. For support-related issues, acceptable reasons to adjust an order include:

  • Paying spouse experienced a change in income
  • Receiving spouse experienced a change in income
  • A child's needs have changed

For a judge to approve a custody modification request, the court will need proof that:

  • There is a need
  • It serves the child's best interests

For any other post-decree modification requests, such as those regarding property division, the party with the complaint will need to have a good reason for making the request. You can discuss this issue with legal counsel before filing a motion for modification in court.

Not easy but possible

Post-decree modifications are not easy to come by, but they are possible. A finalized divorce agreement is not necessarily final; it simply sets terms for the moment. The courts understand that some aspects of it need to be open to change.

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