Like most other divorced couples in Alaska, your divorce settlement probably represents a snapshot of your life at the time of your divorce. You more than likely did what you could to anticipate the future, but no one can account for every eventuality.
Now, you find yourself in a situation in which some or all of your settlement no longer applies, and you need to make changes to it. Even though you and your former spouse can make changes to the agreement, you still require the approval of the court in order to make sure that neither of you could face legal ramifications based on the prior agreement.
What does the court require to change your divorce settlement?
Whether you and your former spouse agree to making changes to your current divorce settlement, you still need to convince the court. The court generally allows changes (or makes them) under the following circumstances:
- Your income went up or down significantly.
- Either you or your former spouse decides to move a significant distance away.
- One of you wants to relocate with the children.
- Your former spouse is either no longer fit or no longer able to remain primary custodian of the children. This could be due to an illness, an addiction or the commission of a violent crime, including one against the children.
- Your child contracted an illness that requires more financial assistance from the other parent.
- You believe that the other parent is not providing a healthy home environment for the children.
You will need to show the court that the changes experienced by one or both of you are significant. You can agree with your former spouse to change your agreement, but if the court does not feel that it is in the best interests of the children, it may send you back to make additional changes.
Making your agreement legally enforceable
Changing your divorce settlement is about more than just getting the court's approval. You also need to make sure that the new terms are enforceable, should something go wrong. You and your former spouse may be able to work together amicably on most occasions, but just as you could not have predicted the circumstances that led to the need for changes, you can't count on always getting along.
Working with a family law attorney could prove invaluable as you make the necessary changes to your settlement, get it approved by the court and ensure that it will be enforceable should you need it.