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Modifying Your Divorce Decree

Can I change a provision in my divorce after it is final?

After your divorce is finalized, you might find it necessary to modify one of the stipulations within the divorce, such as child custody, child support, or property settlement. Changing provisions within your divorce once it is final can be challenging. Your Texas divorce attorney can guide you through the process of filing the necessary motions and providing the needed evidence to support your petition to amend your divorce.

Altering Child Custody or Child Support

Children grow and circumstances concerning custody and child support may change over time. Your spouse may earn a promotion or you could lose your job, requiring reassessment of child support. Your children may have recently started school or taken up a sport, making your current custody schedule unworkable. Recognizing the evolving needs of children and their parents, Texas courts allow either parent to petition for a change in the divorce decree regarding children at any time up until the child graduates from high school. Typically, alterations are only considered once a year, but exceptions can be made for urgent issues.

You will need to initiate your requested modification by petitioning the court for a change in support or child custody, also referred to as conservatorship. While some spouses may consider informally agreeing among themselves to an alteration, this can be risky. Without an official change in the court record, legally child support and custody will be enforced as written in the original decree. Rather than act informally, parents can petition the court to make the change and, with both agreeing to the change, modifications should proceed smoothly.

Changing Property Division

While provisions concerning children can be modified with relative ease, those regarding property division are not so malleable. Division of your property will become final 30 days after the judge has signed the divorce decree. If during the 30 period your realize there has been a mistake with the property settlement, it is critical that you file a motion to amend the decree or a motion for new trial. Exceptional circumstances, such as fraud, may be sufficient to require a court to reopen the issue of property division after the 30-day time limit has expired.