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Can I modify my divorce decree?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2022 | Child Custody

When the judge issues your divorce decree, you may be perfectly happy with the result or sense problems from the beginning. After your divorce is final, you may be able to modify some aspects of a divorce decree, but not others. For example, you can rarely change the property division aspect of the order unless something unusual occurred, such as fraud.

In all other cases, you will need to show the court that your circumstances have changed from the time you received the decree. The most common modifications involve custody and parenting time issues and child support.

Kids change as they grow

No family stays the same from year to year. Courts understand that your child’s needs and wishes may change, as well as the schedules and circumstances of the parents. In order to change a custody order, you must meet the following requirements under Indiana law:

  • The modification serves the best interest of the child, and
  • The family has undergone a substantial change in circumstances, such as living arrangements, age of the child, safety concerns or the child’s wishes if they are 14 or over. A common misconception is that the child’s wishes alone are enough to modify custody. This is not true. A child’s wishes can be taken into consideration, in some instances, but children do not determine with who they live even at 14 years of age or older.

One parent relocating to another town or state is a common situation that constitutes a substantial change in circumstances. Whether the parent wants to move the child with them or needs to modify the parenting time,  a new parenting time plan may be necessary. The court will consider whether moving the child is in the child’s best interest.

When can I modify child support?

As you probably learned during your divorce, child support in Indiana is based on a statutory calculation. In order to change that calculation, you must show:

  • That the support order was issued over 12 months ago, and
  • That a new calculation based on the changed circumstances would result in at least a 20% change in the support amount

You should note that if you are the support payor, you cannot change the amount you pay on your own. You must wait for the court to issue a new order.

Nothing is final when it comes to children

Judges expect your family to change and grow. Indiana law does not consider any order regarding children to be final, in that it cannot change. If the circumstances are right, you can seek to modify your order for child support, custody or your parenting plan.