After you file for divorce and finish the whole process, you receive a decree. This is a court order that states how property and custody is divided, whether spousal support or child support is required and any other terms of your agreement. These terms are legally binding, which means failure to comply can be met with civil and/or criminal penalties.
Of course, circumstances change. Sometimes parents unofficially agree to change their custody agreement, or ex-spouses unofficially raise or lower the amount of support they get. Unfortunately, an unofficial agreement could land you in hot water—even if both parties agree, you could face penalties if you don’t follow the divorce decree. Luckily, judges understand that change is inevitable, which is why Texas allows post-decree modifications.
What is a post-decree modification?
Post-decree modifications are allowed in two broad categories. First, any time both parties mutually agree on a change, they can petition the court to modify the legal agreement. Second, any time a party’s legal, financial or even physical circumstances change (such as moving or becoming disabled) in a way that affects their ability to follow the decree is grounds for a post-decree modification in Texas.
When can I modify an agreement?
Here are three circumstances in which you can modify an agreement:
- Mutual agreement: Sometimes couples divorce amicably, or they’re better able to get along after the initial divorce conflict is over. At that point, they may decide the original terms of the court order no longer suit them. As long as both parties agree on the terms and how they are to be carried out, they can file a motion to legally modify the agreement. For example, perhaps one ex-spouse no longer wants the other to sell their house, or they’ve decided to end alimony payments. There doesn’t have to be a legal reason or theory to support this—all you need is mutual agreement.
- Child support and custody changes: Child support and custody can change based on the parents’ circumstances, the preference of the child or even how much money the custodial parent is entitled to under new law. For example, if, after three years post-divorce, new child support laws would entitle the custodial parent to an amount greater than 20 percent or $100 per month, they can petition to recalculate support under the new standards.
- “Material and substantial” changes: Finally, any time an ex-spouse undergoes material and substantial changes that affect their ability to comply with the decree, they can file to modify it. For example, perhaps a spouse lost their job and can’t pay child support until they secure new employment. Or perhaps one spouse became disabled and is no longer able to pay any kind of support at all. In these severe circumstances, parties can petition the court to make changes.
You should never informally agree to change something in a court order. Always talk to an experienced attorney first to see if you need to file a modification motion. For help with your Texas post-decree modification, call The Law Office of Rob Biggers today.
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Categorised in: Divorce