Can I Revise My Divorce Agreement Post-Divorce?

Just when life is resuming a sense of normalcy, and your divorce seems to be in the rearview mirror, a change of circumstances or unexpected information can quickly make a divorce agreement or order seem inappropriate or unfair. Rest assured, you may have options. Many people do not realize that agreements and decrees can be revised in specific instances post-divorce.


Material Change of Circumstance

Your divorce agreement or decree is crafted based upon the circumstances as they exist at the time of separation. But as we all know, life is fluid. When a “material change of circumstance” upsets the practicality and relevance of the agreement or decree, modifications to it might be possible.

While the material change of circumstance standard requires more than minimal changes in the lives or finances of one or both parties, its determination is subjective and variable depending upon the judge and circumstances of each case. The court will ask, “Is this change enough to alter a previous order?” It is important to know that the requisite change does not necessarily equal a singular major change; several small changes might add up to evidence that what was once appropriate is no longer for the family.

Examples of what might meet the bar of a “material change” would be:

  • A former spouse relocating and no longer living near his or her minor children for the purpose of the initially agreed upon or ordered visitation schedule.
  • A notable decrease in income for the person paying alimony, through involuntary job loss or industry changes.
  • A significant change in the physical or mental health of a former spouse or child, altering financial or visitation needs.


Marital Settlement Agreement Modifications

Marital Settlement Agreements are not often subject to change by a court, and judges will uphold the commonly incorporated provision that the divorce terms are non-modifiable. The major exception to this, however, is for purposes of child custody, visitation, and support.

At times, parties who have entered into a divorce agreement may both recognize the need for revision—even if they do not agree upon exact terms. Returning to, or beginning, mediation is an advisable course of action in revision cases. Just as the couple agreed initially on the best interests of their family and finances, the new circumstances warranting an addendum or change should be revisited and reduced to writing for the terms to be enforceable and therefore reliable for all parties.

Mediation is a validating, expeditious, and cost-effective way for former spouses and co-parents to communicate and resolve necessary modifications. Note: it can be tempting to rely upon an oral agreement to change initial settlement terms. This is not advisable and can leave you without redress in the event the other party fails to comply with the new, uncodified, terms in the future.


Divorce Decree Modifications

Divorces obtained accounting to court orders are not modifiable vis a vis property division, which is final. However, alimony, child support, visitation, and custody can be revisited in the event of material changes of circumstance for the parties.


Custody, Visitation, and Child Support

Divorce agreements and decrees are always modifiable in matters affecting the best interests of minor children. The law seeks to protect the special interests and needs of children of divorce, and extreme matters such as parental infirmity and financial hardship are not the only means to modifications. If a parent is consistently late for or misses his or her visitation, is alleged to be an irresponsible caretaker, or a child’s visitation preferences are well-founded, a court may step in and modify an order or agreement to best accommodate a minor child.


Parent Coordination

Often, even the most adversarial parties agree that their children’s health and welfare are paramount and seek to preserve it despite lingering anger and resentment towards each other. If the divorce agreement or order is not working well for their minor child or children, parties can hire a trained and neutral third-party Parent Coordinator. This expert can facilitate parental communication, minimize strife for the child, offer counsel, insight, and solutions for a struggling minor, and coordinate details of visitation smoothly, which impacts a child deeply. TNS Family Law attorneys Alaina Storie and Rebecca Fleming are Parent Coordinators and would be happy to speak to discuss how they can help if you feel that your child’s visitation plan could be improved, logistically or emotionally.

If you have questions about modifying your divorce agreement, please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Divorce Attorney
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?
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