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A Brief Introduction on Post-Divorce Modifications

You have been through a long divorce process, but your legal battles may not be over. Changing circumstances after the divorce may require a modification of the divorce decree. Finding a good divorce lawyer in San Antonio, TX, is essential to changing your divorce decree, keeping your ex-spouse from modifying the decree, or taking the necessary steps to enforce the provisions of the decree. You and your spouse can agree on changes to the decree, but an agreement may not be possible, making it necessary for you to hire an aggressive divorce lawyer to protect your interests.

Child Custody

A parent must show a material and substantial change of circumstances in order to change custody of a child (or conservatorship as it is called in Texas). Circumstances that may result in a change of custody include the following:

  • Relocation of a parent: A parent may move several miles away in or outside of Texas. A judge will consider the reason for the move. For example, was the move vindictive to make visitation difficult for the other parent, or was it for a legitimate reason, such as getting a better job?
  • Child’s preference: A child may want to live with a parent who was not awarded primary custody in the divorce decree. If the child is over 12 years old, the judge will listen to the child’s wishes and decide if a modification of custody is in the child’s best interest.
  • Parent’s behavior: A parent’s conduct can form the basis for a change of custody. A party with less than equal custody rights may improve his or her standing by remarrying or getting a steady job. On the other hand, a party may become addicted to drugs or get arrested.

Child Support

If a parent loses his or her job or takes a substantial cut in pay, he or she can petition the court to reduce the amount of child support he or she is required to pay. Likewise, if a parent gets a raise or a better paying job, the other parent may seek an increase in child support. The needs of the child may change which will need to be addressed as well. For example, a child becoming ill or disabled would change the circumstances regarding child support.

Spousal Support

A change of circumstances may warrant an increase or decrease in spousal support or alimony. A spouse may lose his or her job and no longer be able to pay the amount of alimony set out in the divorce decree. The alimony recipient may remarry or start cohabiting with another person.

Property Division

The provisions in the divorce decree regarding the division of property may be violated. A party can file a petition to hold the ex-spouse in contempt of court. For example, the decree may have required a party to turn over furniture or pay a home mortgage, and the party may fail to comply with the decree.

Enforcement

If a party fails to pay child support or spousal support, the other party can file a petition to collect the unpaid amount and hold the party in contempt for failing to pay. The offending party will be required to pay interest on the unpaid amount, and he or she can be jailed for failing to pay when he or she has the ability to do so.

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