After a Divorce Is Final, Can Your Ex-Spouse Take You Back to Court?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

After a Divorce Is Final, Can Your Ex-Spouse Take You Back to Court?

By Bryan Driscoll, J.D.

After you receive your final divorce order, there are still a few issues which would cause your ex-spouse to take you back to court. While most provisions in the divorce decree are final, circumstances can certainly change months or even years down the line. While courts won't generally entertain a request to modify property division, they routinely grant requests to modify alimony, child support, and child custody.

Changing a Divorce Order

After divorce, you might find yourself in a position heading back to court at the request of your former spouse. They might want to attempt to have certain provisions of the decree modified, and while this might seem unusual, it happens frequently.

If you and your former spouse agree on modification terms, you can handle the modification on your own by memorializing it into the divorce order, and signing off on the changes. But if you both agree, it is crucial to ensure that these terms are in writing to protect yourself from future litigation. This also serves to save you both time in front of a judge and money spent on attorneys.

But it isn't always that simple. Sometimes, judges and attorneys do get involved. When that happens, there are several steps that take place.

1. A motion for modification is filed.

If you and your former spouse can't agree on the terms to change, then you'll file a motion for modification. After the motion is filed, it will need to be mailed to the other spouse.

2. You respond to the motion.

After you have reviewed what your former spouse wrote in the motion, you respond in your own words. You must act quickly, however, as there is a short time period in which you must file your response with the clerk.

3. The court will review the motion and your response.

The court is looking for a substantial change in circumstances. This means that if your former spouse was required to pay child support but recently lost their job, the court might grant them a temporary suspension or reduction in child support payments.

4. The judge may request a hearing.

During this hearing, the judge will speak with both you and your former spouse to understand the substantial change in circumstances. If the judge agrees there is a substantial change in circumstances that warrants a change in the original divorce order, the judge will grant the request.

5. You may have to file a motion for enforcement.

If the judge agrees with you that there is not a substantial change in circumstances and does not grant your former spouse's motion to modify, it's possible that your former spouse will make the change anyway. In this instance, you will need to file a motion to enforce the original divorce order to ensure your former spouse continues to adhere to its terms.

Whether your former spouse is trying to change their child support payments, alimony payments, or custody terms, they can bring you back to court to try to modify the divorce order. Make sure you have the appropriate documentation in order and are prepared to provide the judge sufficient evidence. The more prepared you are, the less surprised you'll be once the judge makes a decision.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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