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How To Modify A Divorce Decree

How To Modify A Divorce Decree

How To Modify A Divorce Decree

A judge’s final orders in a divorce decree in Colorado are binding and enforceable. The courts expect both parties to abide by the terms set in their divorce agreement or judge’s decisions in their final dissolution of marriage.

This includes orders for the division of their marital assets and debts, their child custody and parenting-time schedule, child support, and spousal maintenance (alimony). But what happens when a spouse’s circumstances substantially change after the finalization of their divorce, making it difficult or impossible to abide by the final orders? Are divorce terms truly “final” or does the law allow a change in the orders after the fact?

When Does the Court Allow a Modification of a Divorce Decree in Colorado?

Fortunately, Colorado courts understand that life sometimes brings significant changes in circumstances that impact an ex-spouse’s ability to abide by a judge’s orders in their divorce decree. The court considers an individual’s request for a modification if the individual has experienced a substantial and lasting change in their circumstances, whether the change is financial or an alteration in health status. Although the court considers a long-term ten percent change in circumstances as its presumptive standard for approving a modification, this is a rebuttable standard—meaning it’s sometimes possible to demonstrate to the court a spouse’s need for a modification under unique circumstances that don’t meet this standard.

What Orders Will a Court Modify After a Divorce?

A divorced spouse can request a modification of their divorce orders for one or more specific divorce terms, including for the following decisions.

Child Custody Modifications in Colorado

When a parent experiences a significant change in their situation, they may require a modification of their child custody and visitation orders. A judge may approve a change in the parenting time schedule for divorced spouses when one parent provides evidence and testimony showing that their circumstances have changed. Common reasons to request a modification of child custody are a parent’s relocation or when a parent shows that their child’s continued close contact with the other parent isn’t in their child’s best interests due to neglect, abuse, criminality, or chronic addiction.

Child Support Modifications in Colorado

When a parent experiences a lasting significant change in their ability to meet their child support obligation such as job loss, a serious illness, or a change in medical condition or disability, they may petition the court for a post-judgment modification of their child support orders. Likewise, a parent who receives child support from the other parent may request a change in the child support order if the child’s needs change; for example, if they’ve had a change in medical condition or child care and educational needs.

Spousal Support Modifications in Colorado

Seeking a modification of a spousal support order in Colorado depends on the terms of the original order. The majority of spousal support orders have a time limit, ending after a substantial period during which the receiving spouse finds employment or increases their education to become self-sufficient.

Also, many spousal support agreements are non-modifiable, which doesn’t allow either spouse to request a modification. Only when an agreement is contractual and not non-modifiable does the court agree to review a modification request. When divorcing spouses did not set the terms for spousal maintenance in a settlement agreement, but instead, a judge ordered the spousal support payments, the judge will review the modification request and may or may not approve the change.

What is the Process for Modifying Divorce Orders in Colorado?

To request a modification of a divorce decree, the spouse must file a motion to modify in the county where their divorce was finalized. Then petitioner serves the other spouse with the motion and allows time for a response. Finally, a hearing takes place with both sides presenting testimony and a judge issuing a final decision either denying the request or agreeing with the request and issuing new orders.

How Can a Colorado Divorce Lawyer Help?

If you’ve experienced a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification of your divorce orders, the Denver divorce attorneys at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. are ready to help ensure your motion meets the court’s requirements and you’re well-prepared for the process. Contact the Denver family law attorneys at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. today for legal guidance and the representation you need to achieve your desired outcome.