January 26, 2018

Divorce Is Final – Almost

 Divorce Is Final – Almost

Most people correctly understand that once a court grants a divorce, the marriage is permanently over.  If the couple wishes to be married again, their only choice is to remarry.  In the eyes of the law that re-marriage is distinct from the one that ended in divorce.

Another thing that is final is the property division that the court orders – what happens to the house, how much of each other asset goes to one spouse or the other.  Even if those orders are, or prove to be, unfair or a bad deal, for all practical purposes, they cannot be undone or fixed.  That means that before the divorce is granted, you should be sure to get whatever legal, financial or other professional support you need to get the best result for you.

Divorce orders for ongoing obligations or rights like alimony, child support, and custody (and visitation) are modifiable.  That is because the law recognizes that things change.  Under limited situations, those things can be changed, but only by court order, to make sense when there have been substantial changes in life situations.

The law regarding modifications is complex and technical and results are highly dependent on the specific facts.  But here are the basics.

  • The amount of alimony and how long it must be paid is often modifiable. But modification isn’t normally easy or automatic.  First, there must be a substantial change in circumstances – for example a former spouse making much more money, or making much less money, or living with a new partner.  Second, there must be a good reason recognized by the law.  And if modification is contemplated in the original divorce order, another completely different analysis may apply.
  • Child support orders are also typically modifiable. A parent’s job loss, promotion or raise, a change in a child’s health or educational needs, or even the periodic update of the Connecticut Child Support Guidelines, are among the events which may result in a child support modification.
  • Custody and parenting (and visitation) orders are almost always modifiable if a modification is in the child’s best interest. Many life changes may give rise to a modification including: aging of the child; a parent’s remarriage or relocation; health difficulties of a parent, the child or the child’s siblings.

Remember, unlike marriage, divorce is final.  And a court can’t or won’t undo or change divorce orders simply because an ex-spouse thinks they got a bad deal.  But the law recognizes, subject to a host of conditions, the benefit of allowing certain divorce orders to be changed to reflect life changes. If you think you might be a good candidate for modification of your original divorce orders, consider consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer to evaluate your case.

Thanks to RJ Media for publishing this article in the January 25, 2018 edition of The Cheshire Citizen.

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