How do I change a Judgment or a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement or a Judgment of the Court can only be changed by filing a Complaint for Modification.

When can I change a judgment or agreement?

Once a judgement or agreement has been ordered, a substantial change in circumstances must exist and be proven before a modification can be made.  Essentially, only if a significant change has occurred since the original judgement was ordered, can changes occur.

What types of things can be modified?

Common modifications include monies received or paid out for alimony, child support, health insurance and education.  Other topics may include custody arrangements, visitation scheduling, and moving out of state.  Nearly any issue involving a child is open to modification should a significant change in circumstances occur.

What issues can’t be modified?

Often in a divorce, the division of property can’t be changed unless rare circumstances apply.  Additionally, issues that ‘survive’ the Separation Agreement are not generally modified.  Every Separation Agreement lists specifically those provisions which ‘merge’ and those provisions which ‘survive.’

Why would I ask for a modification?

Common reasons for modifications include a loss or change of job and income.  The change in circumstances warrants a modification when the original order for alimony or child support was based upon the previous income.  Another reason to ask for a modification is if a change occurs to a parenting schedule or a custody agreement is affected.  If the child’s well-being is harmed by a lack of time spent with one parent, a Complaint for Modification can become necessary.

Can’t my ex and I just verbally agree to a change in child support?

No. A Child Support Order cannot be changed without the ruling of the court.

How do I know if the changes in my circumstances are enough to get a Modification?

Some significant circumstantial changes, such as the loss of a job or change in work, are clear.  In other situations, the change may be difficult to demonstrate.  Seeking the advice of a lawyer practicing Family Law is the best course of action.

Can I handle my Modification case on my own?

Absolutely. Many individuals handle a variety of Modification cases without the legal advice of an attorney. However, you’ll want to be sure you understand every aspect of the filing as a new modification cannot occur until another change in circumstances arises.