Sugar Land Divorce Modifications Lawyer
Over time, circumstances change, and sometimes that means that agreements you made in a divorce decree are no longer in yours or your child’s best interests. Although the terms of a divorce agreement are binding and not easily changed, it is possible. This is called a ‘divorce modification.’
However, divorce decree modifications in Sugar Land, TX, will usually only be considered if there is a significant change in circumstances. If you or your ex-spouse are looking to change an aspect of your divorce decree, then you should seek help from a Sugar Land divorce lawyer who can guide you through the process, protect your interests and ensure the best possible outcome.
Contact Skillern Firm
Skillern Firm is a family law firm with a team of experienced Sugar Land divorce lawyers. When you receive legal representation from us, you ensure that someone is fighting for your best interests. Divorce modifications can be challenging, especially after a complex divorce. Here at Skillern Firm, we have handled numerous divorce modifications and are highly skilled at navigating family law issues. At Skillern Firm, we pride ourselves on our mediation skills and will handle your case with the care and dedication it deserves. Contact us today at (936) 213-8479 to arrange an initial consultation with a family lawyer.
Are Divorce Decrees Legally Binding?
Regardless of whether you have reached a divorce agreement through out-of-court negotiations or litigation, divorce decrees are finalized through court orders. They contain legally binding obligations such as how marital assets will be divided, spousal maintenance obligations, custody rights in regards to children, and other matters. Factors agreed upon in a divorce decree are enforceable by the court, and if one party fails to comply, then they can be held accountable for non-compliance. It is not uncommon for circumstances to change and for it to become difficult or unjust for one party to meet their obligations or restrictions. Therefore, it is possible to seek modifications.
When Can Divorce be Modified in Texas?
A divorce decree in Texas cannot be changed easily. In order for a modification to be successful, a significant change in circumstances must usually have occurred. In addition, at least six months must have passed since the divorce was finalized, although, the more time that has passed, the better. Under Texas Law, modifications can be made if both parties are in mutual agreement or if there has been a significant change in circumstances for either a child or one or both parents.
A mutual agreement is an acceptable means to change the terms and conditions of a divorce decree. Some spouses remain amicable during the divorce process, or it may be that over time they become better able to compromise with one another. If both parties are able to come to an agreement for a modification, then they can file a petition to the court. However, if children are involved then changes must be in their best interest.
Child Support Guideline Changes
Texas family courts may consider child support modifications only after three years have passed since the support order was issued. Monthly payments must also differ by a minimum of 20% or $100 from what would have been awarded under current child support calculations. If the amount of child support was higher or lower than standard guidelines at the time of the divorce, evidence of material and substantial changes are also usually required for the modification to be successful.
Material and Substantial Changes
If there are material and substantial changes for one or more parties, then modifications can be considered. For example, if a parent becomes unemployed or undergoes a significant event such as relocating or becoming disabled. There are many other events that a court may count as “material or substantial”, if you are in doubt, contact a member of our legal team.
Justifying Modifications in Sugar Land, TX
When a court considers divorce decree modifications, they can take into account the behavior of former spouses. For example, if you are hoping to change a custody order, then your behavior and the custodial parent’s behavior may be of utmost importance. Family courts usually consider attempts to resolve issues amicably as good behavior, and only after this approach has failed will the court hear your request. However, if a health and safety issue exists, such as domestic violence, this can be overridden. It can be difficult to evidence good or bad behavior. In these situations, written records such as texts and emails can become invaluable.
How To Modify A Divorce Decree In Texas
To make amendments to a divorce decree, a petition must be filed in the same court where the divorce agreement was finalized. There may then be a hearing where any substantial changes can be considered. While undergoing a divorce decree modification, It is wise to employ an attorney who you can rely on to ensure that all paperwork is in order and that everything is sufficiently evidenced.
What Can be Modified?
In accordance with the Texas Family Code, modifications are allowed for child custody, child support and spousal support. Each of these has its own set of requirements that may need to be met before a modification can proceed. However, if you are looking to address other issues such as community property division, there may still be options available to you, and our legal team at Skillern Firm can help.
Modification Of Spouse Support
One of the most important modifications is changes to spousal support or spousal maintenance, which can be defined as the amount of money one ex-spouse must pay the other. Spousal maintenance has a big impact on the financial well-being of both parties. Changes in circumstances can directly affect an individual’s ability to pay spousal support and therefore, modifications are permitted.
In order to implement modifications in spousal support, there must have been a material and substantial change in circumstances. For example, significant injury or liability, job loss, substantial reduction of income, or other events that create significant changes in financial circumstances. Sometimes, final divorce orders permit a sliding support scale which gradually decreases payments over time. Spousal support could also be stopped entirely when a former spouse remarries or cohabitates with another person.
Child Custody Modification
Child custody covers factors such as who the primary custodial parent is, the rights to make decisions in regards to the child, and the visitation schedule. In accordance with the Texas Family Code, a child custody modification can be made if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Examples include:
- A child’s residence changes.
- A child develops a mental, emotional, or physical disorder that one parent is better able to care for.
- A child expresses a desire to live with the other parent.
- Improvement in the life of a parent who was not initially awarded visitation rights or custody.
- A child custody modification is also possible if both parties agree that the child’s primary conservator should change.
Regardless of whether one of these factors applies, the Judge will only grant changes if they believe that it is in the child’s best interests.
Child Support Modification
In Texas, in order for child support modifications to be made, at least three years must usually have passed since the order was signed, unless there is a substantial change. Some examples of grounds for a child support modification include:
- The former spouse’s salary has increased, and they can afford to pay more in child support.
- The former spouse has lost their job, or their salary has decreased, and they can no longer afford to pay what they did.
- The former spouse paying child support now has another child to support.
- The child is going on to further education and needs more financial support.
- There are changes to the child’s medical issues or disabilities that require additional expenses.
What Traits Should I Look For in a Family Law Attorney?
Choosing a law firm can be difficult, especially because every firm claims to be the best. But when life-changing issues are at stake, such as child custody and property division, you need to be sure that you have high-quality representation. It is a good idea to speak with a law firm that offers an initial consultation. That way you can seek the information you need before agreeing to representation. The types of things you may want to know include:
Your attorney should have plenty of wins and recommendations from previous clients. When you seek a consultation, you can ask about previous cases they have handled. They should be able to provide testimonials from previous clients.
You should be able to contact your attorney easily and they should be willing to give not just legal advice but also to lend a sympathetic ear when you need it. That does not mean that they are available 24/7, only that they are prompt to answer your queries. Talking to your attorney should feel comfortable. They need to be empathetic but they also need to be able to give you honest advice.
Questions to Ask a Potential Divorce Attorney
- Have you dealt with cases similar to mine?
- Have you dealt with cases that are similar to mine in court?
- When can I expect communication?
- What is your level of experience?
- Who is your typical client?
- What is your legal specialization?
- Can you show me testimonials from your previous clients?
Divorce Modifications FAQ
Q: Can you amend a divorce decree in Texas?
A: In Texas, it is possible to modify a divorce decree. However, it isn’t always possible and can be challenging to accomplish. When you contact our law office in Sugar Land, TX, we can provide an initial consultation and will advise you on whether we think you are eligible.
Q: What is a modification lawyer?
A: Divorce modifications fall under family law. A modification lawyer is a family attorney who has experience with divorce decrees and modifications and can therefore meet your legal needs.
Q: Does a good divorce attorney make a difference?
A: A good attorney will guide you through the legal process of divorce in the Sugar Land area. They will help you move through it quickly and with less stress than if you were to try and handle it alone.
At Skillern Firm, our attorneys are skilled at mediation and will also work to minimize court involvement where possible while ensuring that your best interests are considered.
Contact a Family Law Firm in Sugar Land, TX
At Skillern Firm, we strive for an attorney-client relationship based on trust and understanding. We will take the time to learn about the details of your individual case and will do everything possible to protect your future. Whether you are looking to modify your divorce or you are concerned about changes that an ex-spouse wishes to make, a divorce modification lawyer can help guide you through the process. We are skilled in mediation and will work to come to a solution as quickly and peacefully as possible. Circumstances change, and whether your case involves child support, spousal support, or any other aspect of divorce, our law firm has the experience necessary to handle your case.
Contact us today for your initial consultation at (936) 213-8479.