Generally, divorce decrees are final. But unlike what some may think, they are not set in stone. While courts favor upholding the judgment, they also acknowledge that circumstances surrounding the ex-spouses’ lives can change in years or even just months after the finality of divorce. The likelihood increases if there is a child in the picture.
Fortunately, Ohio laws allow divorced parties to file a motion to modify the divorce order after its finality. But what can the parties change?
Child custody, support and visitation arrangements
Children go through changes every day, changes mostly triggered by their environment. When this happens, parents must provide the appropriate emotional and financial support to ensure their child’s adequate growth and development. And sometimes, the original terms of the custody or support order no longer meet the child’s needs. Parents can then request the court to modify the judgment terms to fit the current situation. This may include alterations in parental responsibilities, visitation arrangements, schooling and medical care.
Other circumstances may also warrant decree modifications, such as a parent’s relocation, remarriage, changes in financial capacity and living conditions.
With or without children, ex-spouses experience personal changes in their lives. This can be a change in employment status, an increase in income or remarriage, among others. And these changes be a ground to alter a divorce decree. For instance, the person paying alimony may request to decrease the amount of support if they suddenly lose their job. On the other hand, the recipient may file a motion to adjust the amount if the other party suddenly received a permanent and substantial increase in income.
The order should reflect the parties’ current capacity and needs
Those mentioned above are only some of the terms subject to change. Any significant change in circumstances in the parties’ lives, especially if it involves a child, can warrant an alteration of the divorce decree. The order must accurately reflect the current capacity and needs of the parties to ensure that each one is getting what they rightfully and justly deserve.
However, note that if you seek a modification, you have the burden to prove that the change in circumstances is substantial and that changing the decree would accurately and justly reflect the current situation. Reaching out for legal guidance can help you evaluate your situation and solidify your case.