When to Modify Your Divorce Agreement

How long has it been since you terminated your marriage? Have your circumstances changed since then? While your divorce may last forever, your divorce agreement can change over time.

There are many reasons to consider modifying your divorce agreement. Some examples include:

  • a significant change in income that will impact child support or alimony payments
  • a job change requiring a move
  • needs of aging children
  • the remarriage of the party awarded the alimony

Child Support Modifications

With regard to child support, you can request to modify your original order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Modifications to increase or decrease payments can be requested. Factors such as education, training, health, past employment history, and employment availability will be considered by the Rhode Island Courts when determining modifications. Hardships and loss of employment, or substantial changes in income will also be considered.

Alimony Modifications

A change in circumstance that significantly alters the financial situation must occur before the court considers an alimony modification. Whether seeking to increase or decrease alimony payments, a number of factors can be used to justify a change. For example, a job change, such as a demotion or promotion, can prompt a request to decrease or increase payments.  However, if you contracted for Alimony and in accordance with that contract, your agreement is that Alimony is non-modifiable, then the Court will never entertain a motion to modify. Only Court ordered Alimony can be modified, contractual Alimony can never be modified.

Custody or Parenting Plan Modifications

Any request to modify involving children will focus on the best interests of the child. Of course, you will need a valid reason is needed to change a custody or placement agreement, for example, specific evidence showing that, while in the other parent’s care, the child(ren) are at an increased risk of harm. Circumstances that may warrant an evaluation to a custody agreement include neglectful parenting, substandard living conditions, excessive school absences, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health issues or a child’s request for a change, provided the Court believes the child is mature enough to voice their preference.

Terminating Child Support

There are some circumstances where child support may need to be terminated. For example, if a child no longer lives with the parent receiving support or a child is no longer financially dependent on either parent. A family court judge will determine the final judgment regarding the termination of child support. Usually, a Court will terminate support when a minor child has reached the age of 18 and graduated from high school, but under certain circumstances, support can be paid beyond that period of time if you child suffers from a significant disability.

Modifying a divorce agreement can be a complicated process. We’re here to help you navigate the Rhode Island Courts to obtain the right outcome for your situation. Contact us for more information about your specific case.

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