Can I Change My Divorce Agreement?

update divorce agreement

Changing a divorce agreement is no easy task, so it’s always better to play the long game and make sure the agreement is one you can live with for the rest of your life. But that can be easier said than done – during a divorce, emotions run high and without a proper advocate, it’s easy to wind up with a divorce agreement that you wouldn’t have necessarily agreed to when you were in the right frame of mind. It’s not uncommon for people to simply accept the agreement because they just want to be done. 

If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you either agreed to an agreement too quickly or circumstances have changed and you need to update your divorce agreement, you should understand what you have signed and be prepared for what to expect. 

What is a divorce agreement?

Simply stated, a divorce agreement is the official document that outlines the mutually agreed upon terms of a divorce including:

  • How assets are divided
  • The way in custody is established
  • What parenting time schedules are outlined
  • How child and spousal support is calculated
  • Details as to how property is distributed

Figuring out these pieces takes time and a substantial amount of negotiation. Division is rarely easy, especially when it involves time with children, access to property and distribution of money. 

But what if you have found yourself in a situation that isn’t covered in the agreement or if you want to change the terms of the agreement?

Changing a divorce agreement in New Jersey

New Jersey typically frowns on disturbing a carefully negotiated and mutually agreed upon divorce agreement, especially when both parties were represented by an attorney while it was negotiated. For the Courts to even consider a post-judgment modification request, a substantial change in circumstances must be proven.

Substantial circumstantial changes usually fall into one of the following categories:

  •     Child support
  •     Alimony
  •     Custody
  •     Parenting time
  •     Emancipation
  •     Relocation
  •     Remarriage
  •     Death

Bear in mind that the circumstance must be deemed permanent in nature and not just a temporary issue. For example, asking the Court to increase your child support because you need more money for Christmas shopping wouldn’t be considered a permanent enough reason. You need to show the Court that a significant life event has taken place that permanently affects the existing agreement, such as a disability that now inhibits your ability to work or a situation involving one of your children that fast forwards their emancipation.

What if I’m not sure my situation qualifies as a substantial change?

That’s where we come in. Our family law attorneys are ready, willing and able to sit down with you and outline what New Jersey typically deems to be an acceptable change in circumstances and help determine if your situation qualifies. If it does and you are ready to move forward, our attorneys are skilled at commencing the process in the most non-litigious and cost-effective manner possible.

We can explain how to initiate the process in a friendly setting showing a desire to mediate rather than litigate. This can help determine where your ex stands on your proposed changes before having to go to court. We can’t promise that litigation will ultimately be unavoidable, but we stand on our belief that it is more productive to attempt to negotiate before we litigate.

It all begins with a conversation. Let us start one for you. Call us today.


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