Many people view the finalization of a divorce as the end of the road for a couple and as the resolution of all issues. However, life does not stand still, and when things change, adjustments in previous agreements may be advisable.
Getting approval for such post-judgment modifications may not be easy and requires demonstrating the impact of the changed circumstances and following specific procedures.
Making agreed-upon changes to court-ordered alimony and child support
The Pennsylvania Code sets specific support guidelines in Rule 1910.16-4. However, if ex-spouses both agree to modifications at a later date, the parties can simply draft an agreement that details the changes and provide the document to the court for approval.
The parties must list the new agreed-upon amount and their net incomes. The parties must also sign the document and get a notarization before submitting it to the court.
Requesting post-judgment modifications when exes disagree
If exes do not agree on a modification, the person who desires the change must file a motion with the local court clerk. This document needs to clearly explain the changes in circumstances and their impact. Three requirements for a court to accept a request for modification include:
- The petitioner must have a significant change in circumstances
- The petitioner cannot have anticipated the change at the time of the final divorce decision
- The change must be involuntary and permanent
This careful look ensures that an individual did not simply make changes for reasons that could harm the fairness of previous agreements.
For example, if someone decides to retire, the court looks at factors such as age, health and reasons for retiring. Similarly, when someone paying support loses employment, the person needs to prove the job loss was not a covert attempt to get rid of alimony responsibilities.
The court schedules a hearing where the other party can argue in favor of maintaining the existing arrangement. The judge reviews the evidence to determine whether to grant the petition for a modification. If the judge agrees to the change, the decision is retroactive and applies from the filing date of the motion.
Modifying non-court-ordered agreements
To modify a non-court-ordered divorce agreement in Pennsylvania, the parties must follow the original terms. The law code does not permit a court to intervene unless the agreement permits it. In rare cases, a person might be able to nullify the contract where fraud occurred.
Post-judgment modifications in Pennsylvania offer a way to deal with life changes after a divorce. By following the rules and legal steps, individuals can ask for changes that fit the new circumstances while making sure everything stays fair and legal.