Once your divorce decree is signed, your divorce case is complete, but you and your ex-spouse may later find it necessary to make changes to your decree. In Mississippi, your divorce decree can be modified by the court at your request, but only if there is a change in circumstances that the court agrees warrants a modification.
Divorce Agreement and Decree
If you and your spouse are able to reach agreement on the terms of your divorce, often drafted into a document called a divorce agreement or separation agreement, the court will likely incorporate that agreement into your divorce decree. The agreement should address issues such as child support and custody, alimony – which can be awarded in Mississippi – and property division. Mississippi treats these similarly to contracts. The agreement and subsequent decree is binding on you and your spouse, but the Mississippi court can modify it where necessary.
Change in Circumstances
A change of circumstances after the original decree is issued might warrant a change in the divorce decree. Commonly, the terms a couple request to have modified involve custody or child support. These topics are usually included in a divorce decree but can change, as when a parent moves, changes his work schedule or takes a significantly higher-paying job.
Filing for Modification
If you want to modify your divorce decree, you must file a motion with the appropriate court. Typically, this will be the same Mississippi chancery court that issued your original divorce decree. The motion, called a Complaint for Modification, must be served on your ex-spouse along with a summons, which contains a court date.
If you and your ex-spouse cannot agree on the modification, the court will set a hearing date, which may be scheduled for a date after the initial appearance date listed in your summons. If you can agree, a hearing probably will not be necessary. If a hearing is required, it is up to you as the person requesting the modification to show proof to the court of why the modification is necessary. At the hearing, the judge will accept evidence, including testimony or documents, from each side. If you provide sufficient proof, the court can issue a new order modifying your divorce decree.