According to data from Statista, there was one divorce per 1,000 inhabitants in Massachusetts in 2021. Before a divorce can be finalized, the couples must reach an agreement on various issues, including property division, alimony, child custody, support, and parenting time.
However, changes in circumstances that occur over time might make the provisions of the divorce settlement agreement unfavorable to either party or their children. When this happens, the affected party can file a post-decree motion requesting the court to modify an existing family court judgment.
For more than 30 years, I have been offering experienced legal services and advising clients in post-decree modification matters. As a practiced Massachusetts family law attorney, I can work to understand your unique situation and enlighten you about the conditions and legal procedures to modify a divorce settlement agreement. My firm proudly serves clients across Worcester, Massachusetts, and surrounding areas throughout the state.
What Is a Post-Decree Modification?
A post-decree motion can be described as a petition filed by either party in a divorce – that has already been finalized–seeking the family court to enforce or modify the original divorce settlement agreement. Generally, any of the ex-spouses may file a post-decree motion if:
- there is a breach of contract by the other party; and,
- there has been a significant change in circumstances.
An experienced divorce attorney can enlighten you about the various types of post-decree motions and help determine your eligibility.
Post-Decree Modification Types
Here are some of the most common types of post-decree modifications in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
Spousal Support or Alimony
Either ex-spouse may file a petition seeking the Massachusetts court to adjust the duration, amount, or type of spousal support or alimony payments when there is a substantial change in circumstance.
Child Custody & Child Support
Also, either parent may request the court to modify the existing child-related arrangement, including child support, legal or physical custody, parenting time, or medical care, when there is a substantial change in circumstance or if the existing agreement isn’t in the child’s best interest.
However, if the non-custodial parent or paying spouse is delinquent on child support or alimony payments, respectively, the aggrieved party can file a contempt motion in court requesting that the existing decree should be enforced, and the non-compliant ex-spouse should be punished rightly.
Others: Some other family law decrees that can be modified include scheduled parenting time, tax exemptions, and health benefits for the children.
A trusted family law attorney can enlighten you about the legal requirements to change a court judgment and walk you through the post-decree modification proceedings.
To change a child custody, parenting time, or child support order in Massachusetts, the requesting parent must show that:
- There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the existing agreement was made.
- The existing child support amount is inconsistent with the child’s needs or the amount from the child support guidelines.
- The existing decree may cause undue hardship.
- The proposed modifications will be in the child’s best interests.
A knowledgeable Massachusetts child custody attorney can explore your available legal options to change the provisions of your parenting plan and help you navigate crucial decisions.
Furthermore, to change a spousal support or alimony agreement, the requesting spouse must show that there has been a “material change in circumstances.” Some common reasons to seek alimony modification are as follows:
- a significant change in the financial circumstances of either party
- the recipient party has remarried
- the receiving party is cohabitating with a romantic partner
- increased need for financial support
- early retirement
- the party receiving alimony has died
- the supported spouse is not making a reasonable effort to become self-sustaining
In addition, you can seek spousal support modification if the alimony order was made before the new laws in 2012 and the duration of spousal support is more than the expected duration under the current laws. A dedicated alimony attorney can guide you through the alimony modification process and help protect your best interests.
In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the post-judgment modification process starts by filing a motion or complaint in the family court where the existing order was issued. A court hearing will be scheduled where the judge will allow both parties to provide solid reasons for their modification requests to be approved.
If you have tangible reasons for making the adjustments and the proposed changes are fair, the judge will approve your request. Also, the judge will issue a new decree reflecting the changes. A seasoned post-decree modification attorney can help present your case intelligently in court in pursuit of the best possible outcome.
Understand Your Rights to Family Law Modifications
Changes in economic situations, living conditions, and other surrounding circumstances can have a massive effect on your family, children, finances, and future. Therefore, if you believe that circumstances have changed since an existing divorce settlement agreement was reached and you’re considering filing a post-judgment motion, consulting with an experienced family law attorney is crucial for proper guidance.
At Solutions Through Mediation, I’m poised and ready to advise and guide clients through the complex procedures involved in post-judgment modifications. Whether you’re seeking to change the terms of your divorce settlement agreement, spousal support order, child custody, child support, or parenting time arrangement, I can guide you through the legal procedures involved and help you navigate key decisions.
Contact me at Solutions Through Mediation today to schedule a simple consultation with a trusted divorce attorney. I can offer you the brilliant advocacy and personalized legal counsel that you need in your post-decree litigation. My firm proudly serves clients across Worcester, Massachusetts, and surrounding areas throughout the state.