Understanding Divorce Order Modifications In Connecticut

If your family situation has changed, can you get your divorce order modified?

The answer, as with many other legal questions, is “it depends.”  The law has recently been modified and/or clarified by the Connecticut Supreme Court in the case of Dan vs. Dan (SC 19054) and McKeon vs. McKeon (2015 WL 507233). Before any motions are filed, be sure your lawyer is familiar with these cases.

Court orders that may be modified include those pertaining to:

  • alimony
  • child custody
  • child-support

In order for a divorce decree to be modified, there must be a “substantial” change of circumstances. Unless the parties agree, minor changes will not be sufficient to convince the court to modify in order.

Changed Circumstances

Reasons for modifying a divorce order include:

  • One or both parties have had a significant change in income, either up or down.
  • Either party gets a job or becomes unemployed.
  • As children get older, and their school and activity schedules change, custody and visitation schedules may also need to change.
  • One of the parties, or child, may become ill or disabled.
  • One of the parties may wish to move out of the area, including out-of-state or out of the country.
  • The family may face unusual expenses due to a child’s educational, medical, or extracurricular needs.
  • A party may remarry, leading to a change in income, expenses, the number of the party’s dependents, or other factors. The remarriage of a party receiving alimony may cause alimony to cease if the agreement of the parties so states.
  • One former spouse may believe that the other is abusing or neglecting the children.
  • A parent may have become dependent on drugs or alcohol, which affects employability.
  • One parent may be considered more capable of dealing with a “difficult” child, especially during the teenage years.
  • There may be better educational opportunities for the child in the area where the non-custodial parent is located.

Modifications Based on Agreement

The easiest way to modify a divorce order is when both parties agree. To help with this process, the parties may wish to use the services of a mediator or a collaborative law practitioner.

Contested Modifications

If the parties are unable to agree on modifications, then they will have to bring the issue before the court.

However, a divorce order or a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement may state that certain conditions, such as alimony, may not be modified. Unless this is specified in an order or agreement, normally it will be possible to modify alimony in the event of a significant change in circumstances.

If you need help…

Contact our office today if you need help modifying any kind of divorce or family law order.

Flaherty Legal Group is located in West Hartford and represents clients throughout Connecticut in all family law matters including high net worth divorce. Please call us at (860) 904-2034 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.