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Should you make informal changes in your divorce settlement?

Once you have a finalized divorce settlement, you are likely so relieved that the divorce process is over that you may assume the settlement is set in stone. While an original judgment or agreement does set up the legal framework for the expectations regarding you and your spouse post-divorce, as life goes on, things likely change over time.

Many divorced couples are not aware of how to go about modifying their divorce settlements or court-ordered requirements regarding children, custody, child support, visitation and the like. Some may even attempt to arrange an informal agreement or modification together with their ex-spouse, which is not always the best route to take. 

Making divorce judgment modifications

Some couples decide to make informal modifications to avoid going through a lawyer or court, perhaps to try to save money in a DIY-divorce fashion, or time concerns. Even if you and your ex-spouse are on relatively good terms, there are several risks to making informal arrangements and modifications to your divorce judgments.

Since these informal arrangements are usually made verbally and not written down in a way that is legally binding, there is often no proof of their existence. That means there is no way to show what the actual modification was. The biggest risk, however, is the fact that the court is unable to enforce any modification you and your ex undertake in an informal fashion. So if the informal arrangement falls through or there are disputes after the divorce, you can be stuck, or even in legal hot water if it means you violated the original agreement.

Formal modification strategy

The alternative to an informal modification is to go through the legal process to formalize any changes you and your spouse wish to make to your divorce judgment or settlement. This is especially important if your spouse resists the modification that you want or refuses to agree. In those cases, you need to involve a judge to try to get the modification you want.

Courts understand that a divorce settlement or judgment is final in that moment, but they also understand that life goes on and circumstances change. If you need to make a modification to any aspect of your divorce judgment, from finances to relocation, you should seek out the proper legal avenues in which to do so.

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