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Do you need to modify your support decree?

Finding your feet after a divorce is rarely easy, but for some individuals it takes more time than for others. In many cases, the terms of a support decree may seem fair at first, but once you live with it for some time, it becomes apparent that you simply cannot abide by it. For others, a sudden change in income or a significant, unavoidable expense makes abiding by the terms of the decree very difficult, or outright impossible.

Fortunately, it is possible to petition the court to modify your decree, but you must follow the prescribed process very carefully. If you believe that you need to modify your support decree after a divorce, be sure that you fully understand the process and don't be afraid to seek out professional legal guidance. With proper legal guidance, you can rest assured that you're not sinking your chances of modification before you even begin.

Keep up your end of the decree

One very important part of pursuing a divorce decree modification is demonstrating to the court that you are still doing everything you can to meet the terms. Even if you can't make complete payments, be sure to pay what you can. If you find yourself completely unable to pay, or if you cannot make a payment on the exact date it is due, be sure to communicate this in writing to the court and also to the individual receiving the support.

This helps document that you are not merely trying to get out of paying support, and that you are doing everything you can to uphold the order until the modification comes through.

Document your need clearly

In order to successfully apply for a modification, you must document very clearly why the modification is necessary. If you lost your job or if your pay suddenly decreased, collect your pay stubs or any other work documentation to prove this is the case. The court calculated your support order based on your circumstances at the time of the divorce, and it is only fair to reconsider the terms of the decree if you are no longer in those circumstances.

Similarly, you might face a sudden expense, such as a significant medical bill that you cannot avoid. If so, be sure to collect all the documentation you can about the injury and medical bills to demonstrate the severity of your situation.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Asking the court for a modification is not trying to get out of paying what you owe. If you cannot make the payments, you deserve to explore your options for reducing the support obligation. An experienced attorney can help you examine your circumstances and guide you through the steps of petitioning for modification, while keeping your rights and privileges protected.

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Nancy Noyes Engelman, Noyes & Rubin, LLP
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