Are Post-Divorce Modifications Allowed in Texas?
What Is a Post-Divorce Modification?
When going through a divorce, the courts will issue several orders related to your separation, such as spousal support, child support, and child custody. They will also issue an order regarding property division and debt division. Some of these orders are modifiable after your divorce if the need arises.
Common post-divorce modifications include:
- Child custody
- Child support
Under Texas Family Code Section 9.007, the courts cannot "amend, modify, alter, or change the division of property made or approved in the decree of divorce or annulment." Debt division, part of the property division process, is also not modifiable. The courts also cannot modify the divorce decree itself. Once your divorce is finalized, it cannot be changed or undone.
How to Seek a Family Law Modification in Texas
When issuing divorce-related court orders, the courts work hard to ensure that their orders are just and will stand the test of time. However, they cannot always account for how a couple or family's situation may change over time. This is especially true for families with children. When things change in a way that results in the court order no longer serving the parties' best interests, there is the option to modify them.
To seek a post-divorce modification, the individual wishing to modify the order must petition the courts. They will then need to prove to the courts that a substantial or material change has occurred, making the modification necessary. Whether or not you receive the modification will be left up to the judge's discretion.
Modifications may be granted in situations where:
- Circumstances have significantly changed since the original order was entered
- The change in circumstances is lasting and not temporary
It is important to note that while the legal pathway to obtaining a modification exists, it is not an easy process. You are not guaranteed to receive the modification just because you have applied for it. In fact, it can be very difficult to secure a modification to a custody or support order. This is why it is so important that you work with an attorney when making your case to the courts.
Common Reasons People Seek Modifications
Every family is different, and therefore, every modification request will be unique. However, there are common situations where individuals and families may find that they need their original court order modified.
Examples of reasons to pursue a modification may include:
- One of the parties has lost a job or had a change in income
- The financial needs of one party have dramatically changed
- One of the parties has remarried
- One of the parties has retired
- One of the parties has had a change in their physical or mental health
- A parent has had a significant change in employment or income
- A parent has had additional children or gained a new dependent
- A parent has relocated
If you believe you have grounds to seek a post-divorce modification of your spousal support, child support, or child custody order, reach out to our law firm for guidance. We can help you throughout the process and answer any questions you may have.
What to Do When Modification Isn't an Option
As mentioned above, certain parts of your divorce decree cannot be modified, such as your property division settlement (including debt division). Additionally, you may find that you want to change your support or custody agreement but do not have adequate grounds for a modification. What should you do in these situations?
We recommend that your first steps should always be to consult with an experienced divorce attorney experienced in handling modifications. A lawyer can review your situation and help you uncover all of your legal options. Even if you are not able to petition the courts for a modification, you may have other options available to you, such as enforcement.
Do you need help petitioning the courts for a post-divorce modification? Reach out to the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC for help. Our attorneys can help you determine if you have grounds for seeking a modification and whether a modification is the best option for your particular situation.