Post-Divorce Modifications of Spartanburg Family Court Orders
When a divorce is finalized, the family court judge issues a final divorce decree and a final judgment or court order governing issues such as child custody and visitation, child support, alimony and the division of property. The word “final” means just that, and these orders are not meant to be changed unless one party appeals. There are, however, times when circumstances change that make it necessary or appropriate to seek a modification of a domestic relations court order. In these situations, it is possible to go back to court and ask the judge to modify the divorce decree. Here we’ll look at some of the reasons typically used to justify modification of a court order.
Changed Circumstances that May Justify Post-Divorce Modification in South Carolina
Since custody, visitation and support were decided by court order, it is necessary to go to court if you want to get an order changed. If your former spouse objects to the modification, there will need to be a hearing, at which point the burden is on the ex-spouse seeking the change to prove a substantial change in circumstances now justifies a modification.
Changed circumstances that may justify increasing or decreasing child support or alimony include:
- An increase or decrease in the income of the paying spouse, including job loss
- An increase or decrease in the income of the receiving spouse
- Change in receiving spouse’s need for continuing alimony
- A change in the needs of the child for child support
Common reasons for seeking a modification of custody or visitation include:
- Drug/alcohol abuse or other criminal activity that poses a danger to the child
- Change in a parent’s work schedule that inhibits that parent’s ability to care for the child
- Parent seeking to relocate out of state or a significant distance away from current residence
- Noncustodial parent completes treatment or otherwise removes condition which prevented joint custody or visitation from being initially granted
The division of marital property is generally not modifiable post-divorce. Similarly, a waiver of alimony is not modifiable after the divorce or separation is finalized, although if alimony was awarded in the divorce or separation, the amount may be modifiable.
Termination of Alimony on Retirement
When a former spouse who is paying alimony retires, this may seem like an appropriate time to seek a termination of alimony or at least a reduction in the amount which must be paid. South Carolina law recognizes that a modification of alimony may be appropriate when a paying ex-spouse retires. A modification or termination of alimony is not automatic upon retirement, however. Instead, the court will look at the following factors when deciding a action for post-divorce modification of alimony due to retirement:
- Whether retirement was contemplated when alimony was awarded
- The age of the supporting spouse
- The health of the supporting spouse
- Whether the retirement is mandatory or voluntary
- Whether retirement would result in a decrease in the supporting spouse’s income
- Any other factors the court sees fit
Help is Available in South Carolina Post-Divorce Modification Proceedings
Whether you are seeking a modification or challenging a proposed modification sought by your ex, you will need to be represented by knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys who are familiar with the process of modification of divorce decrees in South Carolina. Lawyers at The Cate Law Firm can help you work with your former spouse to reach agreement on a proposed modification that works for both parties, and if an agreement cannot be worked out, we can represent you in court through the modification motion and hearing process. For help with a post-divorce modification in Spartanburg and surrounding areas, contact The Cate Law Firm for advice and assistance from a team of dedicated and experienced South Carolina family law attorneys.