Following a divorce in Colorado, the ex-spouses may sometimes seek changes or modifications to the final divorce agreement. Parents who are no longer together may also request changes or modifications to their Allocation of Parental Responsibility (APR) agreements. In Colorado, requests such as these are known as post-decree modifications.
Going through a divorce can be emotionally and mentally exhausting to the parties involved. Once the divorce is finalized, it is the hope that both parties can heal and move on with their lives.
However, when one party violates the terms of the divorce decree, or if circumstances between the parties have changed, either party may be able to seek a change to, or modification of, the divorce decree. Under certain circumstances, the aggrieved party may be able to have the divorce order modified by the Court after it is finalized.
If your circumstances have changed, and you need to modify your divorce decree, the experienced and passionate family attorneys at Halligan LLC can help. With years of experience representing clients in divorce, and a drive to deliver the best results possible for their clients, they can help ensure that your divorce decree reflects your changed circumstances.
Call the divorce professionals at Halligan LLC to discuss your post-divorce options at (720) 608-2361. Our initial consultation is free, and we can explain all the possibilities available to you to modify your divorce agreement.
When Can I Seek to Have My Divorce Decree Modified in Colorado?
When a Colorado Court enters an order for divorce, it is deemed final, and binding on the parties involved. That is, both parties are expected to abide by the terms and conditions contained in the order for divorce moving forward. This order is called a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
However, under certain circumstances, your decree can be modified. The Colorado Courts recognize that even the most comprehensive divorce order can fail to account for all circumstances that may change in the future.
The court will require a showing of a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances” to modify a divorce decree involving support. This decision will be made based on the specific facts of your case.
You can modify child support at any time if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances rendering the original order unfair. There’s a rebuttable presumption that a 10% or more change in the child support obligation is sufficient to meet this standard (so long and the circumstances are substantial and continuing). You can only modify maintenance if it’s modifiable under the decree, and you show the change in circumstances. However, the burden to prove a sufficient change for maintenance modification is way more difficult than for child support.
Other circumstances can arise when one party denies the other their parenting time or places their child in harm’s way. A divorce order can also be modified if one parent continually misses their parenting time with the children.
Modification of Decrees Under Colorado Laws
If your personal circumstances have changed following your divorce with respect to your maintenance, custody, or division of assets, you should speak to an experienced divorce attorney to learn if, and how, your divorce decree can be modified post-divorce.
Modification of Spousal Maintenance/Support
Maintenance, or spousal support, can be modified in Colorado. However, whether the Court grants a request for modification will depend on the terms of the original divorce order.
If the divorce agreement states that maintenance agreements are “contractual” and “nonmodifiable,” then neither party will be able to seek a modification of a maintenance agreement, regardless of the underlying circumstances.
However, if your divorce agreement states that maintenance is “contractual, but not nonmodifiable,” then you can request a modification of your maintenance agreement depending on your specific circumstances.
If you did not have an agreement on maintenance and went to trial and the judge ordered maintenance, it is likely the maintenance orders are modifiable.
Modification of Child Support
Either parent may request a modification in child support payments. To support their request for a change in child support, the requesting parent must demonstrate a substantial and continuing change in their circumstances, or their ex-spouse’s circumstances, that makes the original child support order unfair, pursuant to Colorado’s child support guidelines.
The other parent can dispute the request for modification. For example, if one parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, then the Court may not modify child support as requested by the under or unemployed parent..
It is important to note that child support payments cannot be made nonmodifiable under the law. The Court, may, however, deny hearing the request unless all of the parties still reside in Colorado.
Modification of Parenting Time and Decision-Making Responsibilities
Typically, a parent can file a motion to modify parenting time any time after the decree is entered, unless the request is to change the primary parent, in which case a party must wait two years in between such motions to modify.
Otherwise, modifications for a post-divorce decree for parenting time, custody, or decision-making can be very complicated and time consuming. Such motions to modify must be carefully examined and thought through prior to filing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I immediately seek a modification in court?
In most cases, an party should seek to resolve any issues they have with respect to the original divorce decree outside of Court – either through negotiation and/or mediation – and many divorce decrees require the parties mediate any non-emergency issues prior to filing a motion Doing so will save the parties both time and money. Additionally, coming to an agreement outside of Court is less stressful for the entire family, and will bring a quick resolution during a potentially stressful time. An attorney can help you understand your rights to assist you with negotiations with your ex-spouse.
Do I have to pay spousal support if my ex-spouse remarries?
The answer is, it depends. In most cases, an ex-spouse who remarries is not entitled to continued spousal support payments, unless you and your ex-spouse agreed otherwise in the divorce.
Can I file my own request for a post-decree modification?
Any party can file anything in their case on their own; however, due to the complicated legal issues that are involved in requests for post-divorce decree modifications, it is not recommended that you navigate the process on your own. You may risk making decisions about your livelihood and your family without having all of the pertinent information, which can severely affect the outcome of your post-decree modification matter.
Hire an Experienced Colorado Family Law Firm to Help with Your Post-Decree Modification
If your personal circumstances have changed following your divorce, the experienced attorneys at Halligan, LLC are ready to assist you with your post-decree modification. Our award-winning, compassionate team will support you each step of the way through the process, and we’ll fight for you skillfully and vigorously in court.
Call the attorneys at Halligan LLC at (720) 608-2361 to schedule your free consultation today.