How to Request Changes in Your Divorce Terms
Michigan law provides three routes to change your divorce terms. Each procedure offers different benefits and drawbacks. Certain paths are also limited when it comes to the changes that you can request.
Here are some things that you should know about the ways that you can request changes in your divorce terms.
The Final Order
At the end of a divorce proceeding, the judge will issue a final order, also called a divorce decree. The main issues addressed in the final order include:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Property division
- Spousal support (also called alimony)
The judge will issue the final order after a trial or pursuant to a settlement agreement between the spouses. If the divorce included a trial, the final order will encompass the judge’s rulings, based on the evidence presented by the lawyers. If the divorce was settled, the final order will encompass the terms agreed upon by the spouses.
Appeal of the Final Order
If the judge issued the final order after a divorce trial, the parties have the right to appeal the order. An appeal makes a request for review of the final order by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Benefits of an Appeal
An appeals court can review any of the legal issues that were addressed in the final order, including property division.
Drawbacks of an Appeal
The Michigan Court of Appeals will only review legal rulings by the trial judge. It will not review factual findings. For example, an appellate court will review the decision by a trial judge to allow an expert to testify about the value of a family business in the divorce. But the appellate court will not review the judge’s valuation of the business just because you think the value is unfair.
Also, an appeal must be taken within a few weeks after the final order is given. If the need for changes in your divorce terms occurs later than that, you cannot file an appeal.
Finally, you cannot appeal an order that was entered after you settled with your ex-spouse.
Motion to Modify the Final Order
At any time after the final order is given, you can petition the court to modify the divorce decree.
Benefits of a Motion to Modify
A motion to modify the final order can provide almost any ground for modification. For example, if you suffered an injury at work that resulted in a permanent diminishing of your earnings, you can petition for a modification to your child support and spousal support amounts.
Drawbacks of a Motion to Modify
Your ex-spouse might oppose the modification or even propose additional modifications in response to your motion. This could result in a long and costly process.
Agreement with Your Ex-Spouse to Modify the Final Order
You can negotiate with your ex-spouse to agree to a modification of the final order. Once you reach an agreement, you can file a motion to ask a judge to modify the final order in accordance with your agreement.
Benefits of an Agreement to Modify
Since you negotiate an agreement before filing the motion, your ex-spouse will not oppose the motion.
Drawbacks of an Agreement to Modify
You need to work with your ex-spouse to reach an agreement. If you ha.ve a contentious relationship, your ex-spouse might be unwilling to make even the most reasonable compromise.
Choosing a Path to Change Your Divorce Terms
If you need to change your divorce terms, you should consider hiring a lawyer to review your final order and identify the terms that need to be changed. The lawyer can then advise you about your options for changing those terms. When you want a team of experienced family attorneys on your side, reach out to Gucciardo Family Law. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
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