Separation Agreement Modification In NJ and NY
It is not uncommon for a spouse to want to modify certain provisions of his or her separation agreement (also known as Settlement Agreements) after some time. As time goes on, circumstances will most certainly change for the former spouses.
Modifying Your Separation Agreement
You and your spouse can amend your separation agreement after it is filed with the court if you both agree that a change is appropriate. In this case, you may consider attending mediation before either of you files a modification request in court.
If one of you disagrees, the other can file a motion in court asking for a modification to your agreement. The court always retains the power to modify terms relating to child custody and support in the event of a substantial change in circumstances. Terms relating to spousal support are also modifiable unless the agreement specifically states that they are not. Provisions relating to asset and debt distribution can’t usually be changed once the divorce is final, except perhaps in circumstances of nondisclosure.
Why You May Need To Modify Your Separation Agreement
Modifications can be made to a separation agreement if one of the parties can show that a material change has arisen which warrants revisiting the agreement. Types of reasons which would allow an agreement to change include job loss, geographic relocation, illness, special needs and other things of that nature. It is also possible to change certain parts of an agreement without having to rewrite the whole thing.
When separated individuals have children, support payments can be decided by the court. There are some cases in which, over time, one parent may request to modify the payment amount. This modification can either be an increase or a decrease in the amount of the payment. Situations in which a modification may be requested can include:
- Loss of employment
- An increase or decrease in income
- A change in custody arrangements
- If a child requires money for medical treatments
Similar to child support, one spouse may owe the other support payments, or alimony. These payments can be amended if there is a significant change in one or both of the former spouse’s circumstances. This can be a change in the spouse’s ability to pay the support or the other spouse’s need to receive it. Modifications can be made to this in the event of:
- A change in income
- Employment loss
- An illness
- A spouse’s ability to become financially independent from the other spouse
A parenting arrangement or schedule may also be changed. Similar to other marital issues, one or both of the parents must prove a major and ongoing change in their life in order to change the arrangement. To determine if a modification should be made, both sides will present their case for or against the change and make a decision that is in the best interest of the child. Reasons for modification may include:
- Medical problems with the child or a parent
- If one parent relocates
- Parent alienation
- A change in a parent’s employment
- A negative change in the child’s school performance
Call Us To Discuss Your Separation Agreement Modifications
Usually, a separation agreement resolves issues related to property division, child custody, support, and alimony. In addition to covering these topics, the agreement should also address how the household income will be used to support each partner while living separately, parental responsibilities and visitation, how medical bills and health insurance will be handled, who will pay for the mortgage and property taxes, who will handle the car lease or property payments, insurances, and how the children’s needs will be met during the separation.
It is very common that as time goes on, life changes may occur that alter circumstances and thus require modifications to the agreement.
In many cases, modifications are settled without taking your concerns to court. It is possible to amend or modify your existing agreement through informal modifications when both ex-spouses agree to the terms.
In order to see what modifications can be made to your agreement and how, it is important to seek the guidance from an experienced attorney or mediator who has knowledge on separation agreements. Call the offices of Berner Law & Mediation in New Jersey or New York to speak with a skilled professional today.