Utah Divorce Lawyers in Salt Lake City | Modification of Decree
What do you do if circumstances change and what worked at the time your divorce decree was entered is now creating a problem for you and/or your children? Maybe you’re a non-custodial parent who has suffered a significant career setback and you’re not able to earn as much, and, as a result, you’re unable to pay as much in child support and/or alimony. Maybe you’re a custodial parent and your ex-spouse has recently experienced a significant, non-temporary, increase in income that your children should benefit from in the form of increased child support. Maybe you’re a non-custodial parent and your ex-spouse’s situation and/or attitude has changed and he/she is no longer willing or able to parent the children as well as it appeared at the time he/she was awarded custody. Or, maybe you were ordered to pay alimony and your ex-spouse has recently married, or started cohabiting with, someone else.
Utah law has an answer for these problems. It’s called a “modification” of your divorce decree. It is commonly used to change child support amounts, to change custody of children, and to decrease or even extinguish, but rarely to increase, alimony. Unless the parties agree to change the provisions of their decree, generally the court must find that there has been a “substantial and material change in circumstances not foreseen at the time the [existing] decree was entered” before it has jurisdiction to reopen your case and consider modifying your decree. One exception, is that child support usually ceases by operation of an existing statute once the child has turned 18 and has graduated, or should have graduated, from high school. At that point, child support is automatically recalculated for any remaining minor children based on what the parents earned at the time child support was last calculated by the court or by the Utah Office of Recovery Services. Another statutory exception is that a custodial parent can request that child support be recalculated every 3 years, either by the court or by the Utah Office of Recovery Services, and the child support amount will be recalculated even if there hasn’t been a significant change in either parent’s income.
As Salt Lake City Divorce Attorneys, at J.D. Milliner & Associates we will help you determine whether there’s been a “substantial and material change in circumstances” that might serve to reopen your divorce case, and, if there has been, we will work hard to make sure that your decree is appropriately modified.