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Denver Post Decree Modifications

When a divorce decree is signed by the judge, the two ex-spouses usually breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that they can resume their lives again. However, it is not always a final ruling.

Months or even years later, amendments may need to be made to the original divorce order. These are called post-decree modifications.

What is a post-decree modification?

Sometimes, divorce agreements need to come back to the courts for further judgments on various key aspects.

These are known as post-decree modifications and usually affect the financial or custody arrangements.

It could be due to new information coming to light that was not previously known or a continuing change of circumstances for one or both parents.

In such cases, a motion to modify or a motion to reopen (in limited circumstances) is necessary to address the new information or change in circumstances.

If accepted, a judge will then reassess the case and make a new judgment with the goal of amending the Permanent Orders to accurately reflect the current lives of those it involves.

Just as with the original divorce agreement, the services of an experienced divorce lawyer are essential to a successful decree-modification process.

What can be modified in Colorado?

Divorce orders can be modified in the following key areas:

  • Financial settlements – the division of property and assets or debts (based on fraud materially affecting the outcome)
  • Physical child custody arrangements – visitation rights, etc. 
  • Legal custody – parental decision-making
  • Child support – sometimes a change of financial circumstances warrants this
  • Maintenance/spousal support – sometimes a change of financial circumstances may require a new arrangement

It should be noted that, just as with the original divorce decree, the judge’s decision on making modifications will be based on protecting the best interest of the children as well as a fair and equitable result for the parties. 

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Denver Post Decree Modifications Colorado Legal Group Divorce Law Firm

Maintenance modification

If there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, the court may consider a modification of maintenance. For example, if you lose your job, need to settle for a lower income on a permanent basis or your ex-spouse has received a significant increase in salary, the courts could modify the term or amount of maintenance.

In some cases, full financial disclosure was not forthcoming when the judge made the initial ruling so a review with full possession of the facts of the case is required.

According to Colorado law, you must demonstrate that the change of circumstances is substantial and continuing and that the original terms are now unfair.
Maintenance modification can be requested either by the spouse making the payments or the one receiving them. You must file a motion to modify maintenance with the court that heard your original divorce case.

Note that some separation agreements specify that maintenance is “contractual, nonmodifiable.” In such cases, requests for modifications will be denied by the courts.

Finally, on this point, note that maintenance payments will usually (but not always) end if the ex-spouse receiving the payments gets re-married.

Denver Post Decree Modifications

Child support modification

Another common area of a divorce order requiring modification is child support.

It can be modified by either parent where there is a change of circumstances that are “substantial and continuing.” For example, a change in overnights, change in health insurance or childcare costs, or change in the parties’ income(s) could be considered substantial and continuing changes.

This usually requires a minimum of a 10 percent change in the amount of support required each month. However, this is not a hard and fast rule if other circumstances need to be taken into account (such as the medical condition of the receiving parent or the medical requirements of the child).

Again, you must file a motion to modify child support in the court that heard your original case.

If your ex-spouse gets a substantial pay raise, it is not guaranteed that you will get more child support (or maintenance). This will depend on the circumstances – and the 10 percent rule will apply.

Child support cannot be made “contractual, nonmodifiable” so if there is a substantial and permanent change in circumstances, there is a good chance that the court will reconsider your case.
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Parenting time and custody modification

Child custody, parenting time, and decision-making for the children are all important considerations for the original divorce decree.

Again, if there are substantial and continuing changes to circumstances, these can all be modified to reflect the changes. 

For instance, if you were granted joint decision-making capabilities for your children, but your ex-spouse refuses to fulfill their side of the agreement, you may seek sole decision-making responsibility from the court system.

The court’s duty to protect the best interests of the children dictates that it must consider any new factors and circumstances that would affect the wellbeing and upbringing of the children. While the court will always consider the best interests of the children, sometimes a modification requires an endangerment standard. It is important to seek legal advice to know the difference between the standard you must prove.

In order to make a modification, you must file a motion that is specific to what you want to modify.

Sometimes there is a two-year time limit that applies to file subsequent motions after the first motion for modifying parenting time, custody or decision-making responsibility has been filed. 

Motions to modify are therefore generally more complex than with maintenance or child support. 

Speak to an experienced divorce attorney to understand what it is possible to modify, the restrictions that apply, and what the chances are of being successful.

Property division modification

The final main area where divorced spouses seek modification is property division.

The original divorce decree was made with the assumption of full possession of the facts about the married couple’s material assets and liabilities and incomes.

If one of the parties either withheld key information or provided false information that would have affected the initial ruling, a motion to reopen can be filed by either party.

To allow for post-decree modifications of property division, the court retains jurisdiction to allocate assets and liabilities for five years after the initial divorce decree.

The court may hold an initial hearing to determine if the new information would materially affect the ruling on property division. 

If it is deemed necessary, a second hearing is then held to reallocate the property or liabilities.

Reasons for modification

If you are considering the terms of your divorce settlement and decide that they are unfair based on new information that was withheld or not considered at the time of the original decree, you can file a motion through your divorce lawyer for the court to reassess.

In most cases, the reasons for modification are:

  • A change in the income of you or your ex-spouse (e.g., a promotion, raise or redundancy)
  • A change in living conditions for you or your ex-spouse
  • A change in the financial needs of a child (e.g. the need for medical care)
  • A deterioration in the physical or mental health of an ex-spouse
  • An inability for your ex-spouse to honor the terms of the original decree
  • The remarriage of your ex-spouse
  • Drug or alcohol abuse or a criminal conviction of an ex-spouse

Divorce decree modification lawyers in Denver

As well as helping spouses with the divorce process, the divorce lawyers at Colorado Legal Group assist with making important decree modifications that better reflect the current life situations of divorced couples and their children.

If your circumstances have changed since your divorce, we can help you successfully modify spousal support, parenting time, child support or other elements of your agreement.

Need help with a divorce decree modification in Denver?

Call Colorado Legal Group at 720.594.7360 or get started with a free case evaluation.

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