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When Should A Divorce Decree Be Modified?

Imagine this: You’ve gone through the back-and-forth negotiations, compromises and adjustments to finalize your divorce. After all the hard work you’ve put in, it appears that you now have a decree that is amenable to both you and your spouse, one that makes clear-cut provisions for the support and custody/visitation of your children. The order is signed by the judge, and you are now officially divorced.

Time marches on, and things go according to plan for a while. But then your circumstances change. Perhaps you got a promotion or were laid off. Perhaps you have an opportunity for a new job, but in a city far away. The terms of your divorce decree may no longer be workable. What then?

You aren’t necessarily without recourse in such a situation. It may be possible to modify the terms of your decree — and we can help. The attorneys at Fuller & Ahern, P.C. have decades of combined experience assisting clients in Parker and throughout the Denver metro area with modifications of their divorce decrees. We help people revise provisions pertaining to spousal support, child support, child custody and visitation, and more. To learn more, schedule a free consultation with our firm. We’re always ready to help.

Relevant Colorado Laws

There are several provisions set forth in Colorado Revised Statutes Annotated that deal with modifying divorce decrees and different aspects of them. Here are the most relevant ones:

  • § 14-10-122 — covers modification/termination of provisions dealing with spousal maintenance (often called “spousal support” or “alimony”), child support and property division
  • §14-10-129 — modification of parenting time, relocation (when one party seeks to move a distance sufficient that it changes family dynamics and could impact the custody and visitation arrangement) and restriction of parenting time
  • §14-10-129.5 — Enforcement of parenting time
  • § 14-10-131 — modification of decision-making responsibility (formerly known as “legal custody,” this is the ability to legally make major decisions concerning such topics as education, religion and medical care on behalf of the child)

It should be noted that these laws and other provisions governing modifications to divorce decrees, legal separation orders and orders dissolving domestic partnerships generally dictate that no changes shall be made regarding child support orders if the result would be a change of less than 10 percent monthly.

When Are Modifications Appropriate?

Usually, post-decree modifications are enacted only when there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. This is something to be decided on a case-by-case basis, but examples of significant changes include:

  • One party has suffered a job loss or substantial decrease in pay.
  • One party has obtained employment at a significantly higher income than his or her previous employment.
  • A party has engaged in activities or actions that placed a child or children in imminent physical or emotional danger.
  • A party is not allowing the other party his or her court-ordered parenting time.
  • A maintenance order has terminated.
  • A child has emancipated and there are remaining children receiving child support.
  • One party has discovered that the other failed to disclose assets during the divorce proceedings and now wants to modify the property division agreement to address those additional assets.

Modification of a divorce decree may be necessary for any number of reasons. Taking the proper steps and making the strongest argument is the best way to pursue or defend against modifications to your decree. When you have questions about seeking a change to your Colorado divorce order or defending against a requested change, contact an experienced family lawyer at the office of Fuller & Ahern, P.C.

You can call us at 303-800-0474, or reach us online. We’re here to answer your questions and address your concerns.