Modifying a Divorce Agreement in New Jersey as Initial Terms become Outdated
After a divorce, ex-spouses move in their own life directions and continue their growth.
The arrangements put forth in a divorce agreement sometimes do not fit with the emerging circumstances of one or both exes after a period of time. When this happens, modifications must be made to the divorce agreement. There are various reasons a finalized divorce may need to be changed. While the purpose of having the support of experienced family law attorneys is to create a legally standing divorce document that stands up to the test of time – and they may have done just that – as well as the collaboration between the divorcing couple has been amicable, circumstances that are outside of plans and foresight may emerge. Some such changes do not affect the legally binding terms of a divorce agreement. Some, however, shift the dynamics between the couple such that initial terms become outdated and are ready to be modified or dismissed.
What are some reasons to modify a divorce agreement?
Some common areas of a divorce agreement that a spouse or couple seeks to modify are
- child support agreements
- alimony payments
- child custody agreements and arrangements
- new information regarding assets formerly withheld during the divorce
Issues regarding child support agreements could include the need for updated child support arrangements due to one spouse’s remarriage, which may affect the original terms of the financial agreement.
Where child support is concerned, amendments could be needed if one partner breaches child custody agreements repeatedly or once in a major way, requiring a change in custody to provide a safer container for the child. Additionally, if one partner plans to move out of state or the area, updates to the terms of custody or the parenting time agreement may need to be made.
Alimony payments are determined to help a non-breadwinning partner establish their financial footing after a divorce. When the ex is financially established, or after a set amount of time, alimony payments may no longer be determined as legally appropriate. There are three types of alimony: temporary (pendente lite) alimony, limited durational alimony, and open durational (permanent) alimony. Temporary alimony is set up during the divorce proceedings, so that the receiving spouse is able to cover the associated costs of the divorce, including attorney fees and living expenses. Temporary alimony payment amounts are based on the intention to maintain a spouse’s living status quo; it is often required by breadwinning spouses whose partner was a stay-at-home spouse or parent. Limited durational alimony is alimony paid for a specifically determined amount of time, but it, too, can be modified. Limited durational alimony is often established for the same amount of time as the length of the marriage if the marriage lasted fewer than 20 years. And, despite popular belief and the confusion of many receiving spouses, even permanent alimony can be eventually dismissed. This type of open durational alimony is flexible, though it is called permanent.
Is It Mandatory to Find the Support of a Family Law Attorney?
Because there is a fine line between what requires a legal change to a divorce agreement and what requires stricter enforcement by the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part of the initial agreement, it is recommended that you seek the guidance of experienced family law and divorce attorney to help you navigate that process. In the case that an amendment to the original divorce agreement is petitioned, the Superior Court judge will review the grounds for amendment or enforcement. If the judge finds that one spouse is in breach of the original legally-binding agreement, the Superior Court will address the breach and require that the contract-breaking party uphold their legal duties and rectify the breach, usually in a financial form. These breaches usually surround child support payments, child custody agreements outlined in the New Jersey parenting time agreement, or alimony payments; and in the case of a breach, the ex-spouse is either ordered to make a payment to their spouse to ‘cover’ the breach of the divorce contract or in the case of the breach of a custody arrangement in which the parent misses scheduled time, the judge may order that make-up time be arranged with the child.
If it turns out that one spouse hid assets during the divorce proceedings, the plaintiff spouse may approach the Superior Court to request enforcement of the fair separation of assets, including this newly obtained financial addition.
Modification of a divorce agreement is often more amicable and results from changing circumstances within the lives of each of the spouses. When children are involved, changes to the terms of a divorce may be required simply based on the changing needs of the child, for example. Having the support of an experienced family law attorney can help you discern the best way to go about modifying an established divorce agreement when the circumstances dictate.
Consult a Union County NJ Divorce Attorney to Guide You Through the Proper Steps
At the Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, our New Jersey family law attorneys support our clients across Clark, Roselle, Roselle Park, Garwood, Elizabeth, and throughout Union County, Essex County, and northern Middlesex County in all matters of establishing, upholding, and modifying the terms of their divorce agreements.
To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team today regarding your divorce agreement and your evolved needs, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625. We´ll be happy to work with you.