Divorce settlements can be modified, but it is a difficult process and only possible under certain circumstances. For a property settlement, for example, only if you can prove fraud, error, or a major mistake could it likely be modified. It is critical to be aware of what you are agreeing to before signing the settlement agreement.
You might have to think about a couple of things if you are considering modification. In some states, there is a 30-day window to review the property settlement after it has been finalized. Mistakes and fraud can lead to modification. The most common form of fraud is when one spouse hides assets. If you have any suspicions, you need to put together a good financial team to help you pursue any hidden assets. The second scenario, which is less common, is when some kind of technical mistake occurs. If there is a mistake in a calculation, then you can appeal for modification.
Spousal and child support can be modified, but this depends on the state where you live. If you lost your job, or had a salary reduction, an illness or a disability, or remarried, then you can potentially modify spousal and child support. Upon remarrying, you might not have to pay those payments, depending upon the way your settlement is worded. In case of cohabitation of your spouse, you might not need to make the payments anymore. For the ones receiving spousal or child support, they also need to be aware of how their new relations are going to affect the payments.
If one spouse’s income increases substantially, it could also be grounds for modification.
Editor’s Note: Shawn Leamon, MBA and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, discusses whether or not you can change your divorce settlement. The original story, “Can I Change My Divorce Settlement?” was posted here on this page. It is on Leamon’s site, DivorceAndYourMoney.com.
Shawn Leamon is the author of Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide. More on this subject can be found on Shawn’s podcast under the same title at www.divorceandyourmoney.com or https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/divorce-your-money-podcast/id1093624567