There are times where making changes to the judge’s divorce decree may be needed by one or both parties. This is called a divorce modification and it begins with either filing for a new trial or filing an appeal.
Typically in a divorce that includes children, the change is in regards to Custody and Decision-Making. In divorces without children, there can be issues involving Spousal Maintenance, Division of Property (including a business), or more. In both cases, a re-trial may be needed if there were errors, including newly discovered evidence that could have an impact on the outcome of the original trial.
In order to file for a new trial, one of the following conditions must be met:
- A surprise situation or accident
- Misbehavior by one or more parties
- A feeling of an unfair trial
- New evidence not discovered or unable to be discovered during original trial
- A mistake in evidence
The party that feels one of these justifications applies must file a motion for a new trial in writing within 15 days of the original judgment entry for the Decree of Dissolution. The Court will take the new evidence into consideration, which may include testimonies and correction of information. From there, the Court can then make a new judgment or uphold the one previously made.
Divorce Modification for Spousal Maintenance
Often new trials are requested in relation to Spousal Support (Maintenance). In Arizona, Spousal Maintenance can be modified for a variety of reasons including large changes in income and/or health issues. The goal of spousal maintenance is to provide a reasonable and sustainable lifestyle for the receiving party.
Modifying a Divorce Due to Property Division
Courts tend to divide assets equally, so final rulings on property division are fairly straight forward. Filing an appeal should happen as soon as possible as it is a long process, and the Court may deny the motion for a new trial without compelling justification to do so (such as an error in the business valuation, property value, etc.)
Child Support Modification
To have your child support modified, the Courts will look at large changes such as a change in situations resulting in a 15% or more change in financial need, the current existing guidelines and the income of both parents.
Using Arizona Supreme Court Guidelines, the Court will look at evidence of pay increase or decrease, and/or health concerns if applicable. The decision is based purely on the application of facts and information provided.
Child Custody Divorce Modification
In regards to Legal Decision-Making, also known as child custody, justifications to modify the divorce apply as well. The most common cases for needing a change include:
- Parental illness
- Neglect and abuse of the children
- Parental criminal activity
- Long distance relocation of a parent
Child custody and legal decision-making should always be done in the best interest of the children.
Given the very long process of appeals, it is recommended that divorce mediation outside the courts be used before filing paperwork. This can be done with a divorce attorney or mediator.
Contacting an experienced Arizona divorce attorney will help you assess your rights regarding divorce modification, divorce property division, spousal support, child custody and more. With over 30 years of experience in Arizona, the Simon Law Group will provide a free and confidential consultation when you call 480-745-2450 or click here. Remember, Experience Matters!!!