Life goes on after divorce. People remarry, change jobs, and watch their children grow older. All of these events can mean that the terms of their divorce decrees are no longer appropriate. Connecticut courts realize this, so even years later it’s possible to change many of the terms of a divorce. Child support and custody, as well as alimony or spousal support, can be modified when your Connecticut divorce attorney can prove that there’s been a significant change of circumstances since your divorce was final. Significant is the key word – a minor, run-of-the-mill change is not sufficient.
Child support can be recalculated under a number of circumstances. Connecticut child support is based on both parents’ earnings in addition to several other factors, so a change in income on either side can warrant a modification if it’s drastic enough. But child support can be modified for other reasons as well, such as when there is a change in custody terms or a child’s needs. For instance, if a child requires medical care or special education that was unforeseen at the time of the divorce, child support can be modified accordingly.
Custody terms may require modification for a variety of reasons as well. A child’s needs may change, but more commonly, changes in parents’ schedules or lives require that a decree’s existing terms be modified. For example, the custodial parent of young children may take a job that now requires her to work the graveyard shift. A custodial parent may remarry, and her teenager and her new spouse have serious conflicts. Maybe the custodial parent has developed a drug or alcohol addiction. All of these changes in circumstances would likely constitute grounds for a change in the terms of child custody. Again, Connecticut child custody laws require that the change must be significant, and it must be material. The circumstances must not have existed at the time custody terms were initially agreed to or ordered, and they must directly affect the wellbeing of the children.
Modifying alimony or spousal support in Connecticut can be a bit trickier, depending on the exact terms of your decree. If you and your spouse divorced by marital settlement agreement – you negotiated terms instead of going to trial where a judge ordered them – that agreement may state that alimony is non-modifiable. If this is the case, the terms cannot be changed, not even with a significant change of circumstances. Likewise, if alimony is waived or not even mentioned in your decree, you can’t go back to court later and ask for it. Otherwise, a permanent change of income for the paying spouse might be a significant change that the court will consider to terminate or reduce alimony payments. The circumstances of the receiving spouse can instigate modification as well, such as if she hits the lottery or her income skyrockets for some other reason, or if she begins cohabiting with a new significant other. Remarriage of the receiving spouse automatically terminates alimony under Connecticut law – in this case, it’s not necessary to go back to court to ask the judge to curtail the payments. Remarriage of the paying spouse is not a significant change warranting modification, however.
Modifications of divorce decrees are a complicated area of law subject to various rules, depending on exactly what terms you want to modify. The Law Office of Alexander H. Schwartz offers free initial consultations. Call the family law attorneys at 203-307-0537, and we’ll schedule an appointment for you at your convenience to discuss the changes that have happened in your life since your divorce. We’ll tell you honestly if those changes are significant enough to warrant modification and, if so, how we can make that happen. We’re among the top divorce lawyers in Connecticut with over 30 years of experience helping people just like you. We offer flexible payment plans should you choose us to represent you. We will make sure your divorce decree suits the current circumstances of your life.
I had Alex in a very messy divorce. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but he explained to me why I couldn’t have it all. He explained every decision I had to make so when it was over I understood how I got where I am. His fees were lots less than many of my friends paid for their divorces and I’m really happy with how quickly he answered emails and text messages.
Attorney Alex Schwartz is recommended for your highest rankings. Mr. Schwartz exemplifies professionalism and courtesy. He has a reputation for zealous advocacy as well as for fairness and cooperation.