Divorce settlements are intended to be final, but sometimes life interferes with an existing arrangement. Just as things change when you are married, changes can occur when you are divorced. For instance, if you or your spouse loses their job or there is a significant change in income for any reason, it is possible to make changes to the divorce settlement. The two aspects of the divorce settlement that are most affected by a change in income are alimony or spousal support and child support.
Getting Court Approval
Changes require the approval of the court. If you and your former spouse agree on the changes, they are usually easy to make. Your attorney or your spouse’s attorney can draw up a revised agreement and submit it to the court for approval.
If you and your spouse disagree on the new arrangement, things can be a bit more complicated. Mediation is sometimes used to create a new arrangement that works for both parties. The mediation process also ensures children are a priority, both financially and emotionally. Keep in mind a change in job might also mean a change to the custody arrangement or parenting time, which can also be settled in mediation.
When you are unable to reach a new arrangement through mediation, you will need to file a motion in court. During a hearing, your attorney or your spouse’s attorney presents information regarding the details of the new situation. The opposing attorney argues against the proposed changes to the settlement and the judge determines the final outcome.
Proving the Need for Changes
If you or your spouse is requesting a change to the child support arrangement, the court must receive proof of the changes that have occurred to cause this request. For instance, if you lose your job, you will need to submit a letter from your former employer or paperwork from the unemployment office to prove you are no longer employed. If you get a new job but your salary is less, you will need to show those pay stubs to the court. If the court denies the request for a change, you might have the option of filing a child support modification request with the state.
Keep in mind job loss can be temporary, so it might not be in your best interest to rush changes to the divorce settlement. If you and your spouse do not agree on the changes, you will need to pay an attorney to work on your behalf and it could take awhile to create a new settlement. You need to weigh the risks and rewards of making a change.