Collaborative Divorce Modifications

We’ve previously espoused the benefits of utilizing Collaborative Law for divorce in the blog post A Collaborative Divorce Q&A, Part I. However, did you know that the collaborative legal method can be applied to numerous aspects of family law aside from just the actual divorce?

Whether you used collaborative law, litigation, mediation, or some other method to obtain your original divorce agreement, collaborative law can be used to resolve just about any other family-related legal dispute as well, assuming the circumstances are right.

Divorce modifications in particular are well-suited to the collaborative legal method.

A divorce modification is any change to your original divorce settlement. When you reach your original settlement, most families will have a set of strict rules to which they must adhere regarding custody, child support, spousal support, visitation, etc. However, as they say, the only constant in life is change.

When the circumstances in your life change and certain aspects of your original divorce settlement are no longer reasonable or applicable, you may need to update that settlement to suit your new needs and situation.

Parenting plans in particular generally require the most updating, and potentially even overhauling, to keep up with your changing life.

Some of the situations for which you may need to modify your divorce settlement could include:

  • Significant increase or decrease in income
  • Changing jobs
  • Moving away
  • Severe illness or accident
  • New financial needs of children not covered in original settlement (college, etc.)
  • Change of heart by custodial parent on custody or visitation with the other parent
  • And much more

In such situations, one parent may request that the other one agree to modify the terms of the original divorce. When both parents agree on the changes, the modification is relatively painless, and the court will likely grant the change in the original divorce orders. When the parents disagree, things can get much more complex.

It is when there are disputed elements of a modification that collaborative law can help. All of the same benefits inherent in a collaborative divorce will also apply to a collaborative modification, including achieving a more equitable resolution since both parents will work together, potentially with expert advisors, to reach a solution that works for both sides. This is usually far better than battling the dispute out in court, and working only towards your own ends and goals rather than considering the needs of each party.

Your children in particular will benefit from utilizing collaborative law to resolve a modification dispute. Everyone knows divorce is incredibly hard on children, and if you take your modification dispute to open court and litigation you will likely be forced to drag your children through it along with you, reopening old wounds and even creating new traumas.

The collaborative legal method can help many families achieve a more reasonable and amicable divorce modification by removing the threat of litigation and giving parents the opportunity to privately work together to figure out a solution that will benefit each of them. Keep in mind, however, that collaborative law is not perfect for every situation. For example, if you are in need of an emergency modification because of danger to your children from the other parent, you will probably need to use more aggressive tactics.

If you need to modify your original divorce orders and you would like to learn more about how collaborative law can help, contact the Law Office of Kenneth J. Levey today. We can guide you throughout the collaborative process, and assist you in other methods of achieving a modification. Give us a call today.


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