Divorce Law Firm New Jersey
Divorce decrees are not set in stone. When circumstances change significantly, either party to a divorce may need to review a settlement and seek modification of alimony, child support, child custody, or any other provision of the decree. Wondering how to change a divorce decree? A family lawyer can explain, in more detail, how a divorcee may be able to change his or her original divorce agreement.
Modification of a divorce decree is a complex process, which should not be undertaken without the guidance of a competent family lawyer. For guidance in how to change a divorce decree, enlist the support of the top divorce lawyers in New Jersey at Garces, Gabler & LeBroq.
Examples of modifications of divorce decrees:
Child custody can be either legal or physical. Legal custody gives a parent authority to make important decisions concerning the child’s health, education, and general welfare. Physical custody concerns only the child’s day-to-day care and place of residence. In New Jersey, the standard for granting custody is always the best interest of the child.
Parents may wish to alter a custody agreement for a number of reasons – anything from relocation to protecting the child from abuse, neglect, or exposure to alcohol or drugs could be cause for modification.
If you are receiving alimony, be aware that even “permanent alimony” can be subject to change. Alimony payments may be increased, decreased, or even terminated:
- Upon the death of the payer
- Upon the death of the recipient
- Upon remarriage of the recipient
- When the payer is unemployed and makes an effort to find a comparable job, but the new job pays less than the old one
- When either party experiences changes in physical condition, such as permanent disability
- Cohabitation, by the person receiving alimony, in a marriage-like relationship, where the financial benefits may be great enough to justify modification
- Retirement of the alimony payer at the normal retirement age
Child support can be modified only in cases where a change of circumstances is both significant and permanent, such as:
- Unemployment for more than one year
- The payer’s permanent disability
- The payer’s serious, debilitating illness
- A change in parenting time by the non-custodial parent
- The payer’s obtaining higher-paying employment
In New Jersey, the obligation to support a child ends when a child is considered “emancipated.” However, there is no fixed age for emancipation; it depends solely upon the child’s life circumstances. For example, a child may be emancipated if he or she:
- Reaches age 18, is not a full time college student, and becomes financially independent
- Cohabitates with a another person as if they were married
- Enters the armed forces
- Is employed full time and is not attending school on a full time basis
Changing an equitable distribution of property does not require a change of circumstance, but must meet certain criteria. In New Jersey, “equitable distribution” does not mean “50-50,” but rather division of property in a way that the court decides is fair to both parties. The decision takes many factors into account, including:
- The length of marriage
- The current value of the property
- How much each spouse can earn in the marketplace
- What the spouses owe
A person who believes their divorce judgment should not become final can ask the court to be relieved from it, provided they have specific reasons for the request. The court may relieve them from final judgment due to:
- A mistake, or “excludable neglect”
- Newly discovered evidence which could have been discovered in time to move for a new trial
- Fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct
- Any other reason justifying relief in the operation of the judgment or order
As you can see, there are many possibilities for modifying a divorce decree. Whether you’re on the paying end or the receiving end of alimony and child support, you should count on the combination of New Jersey law and competent family lawyers to ensure that you receive the most equitable treatment that conditions warrant.