A Divorce Decree is a legal document that finalizes all issues of the parties’ marriage at the end of their divorce case. It can feel like a long and tiring journey to get to that finish line, but when you finally reach it, and you can say you are officially “divorced.” All of the issues between you and your ex-spouse, including any financial terms, property division, and child-related issues, are now resolved, whether agreed upon during mediation or ordered by a judge after a trial in family court.
When the decree is issued, it is intended to govern (as much as possible) the matters related to the divorce in perpetuity. That being said, sometimes things need to change to reflect important life developments. So which terms of a final divorce decree are able to be changed or modified following the filing of your Final Order in South Carolina?
Some issues are almost impossible to have changed. For instance, the division of assets and debts set forth in the Divorce Decree is almost always permanent, and the chances of the Family Court changing those terms range from slim to none. In cases concerning property and debt division, a modification will only be considered if you can prove that certain types of fraud or misrepresentation have occurred. In other words, a very high burden must be met, as the Court wants the divorce to finalize the asset and debt issues to the greatest extent possible so that everyone can move on with their lives and trust that what was allocated to them in the Final Order really is their property or responsibility going forward.
Issues Subject to Modification
However, issues pertaining to the children of the marriage, such as custody, visitation, and child support, may be changed if one of the parties can show there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the Divorce Decree was issued. Also, certain types of alimony (and there are many types in South Carolina) may be subject to modification upon a showing of significantly changed circumstances for the parties.
Even with these types of issues, though, simply showing changed circumstances doesn’t always guarantee that the Family Court will change anything; it only opens the door for the request to be considered. Your chances of having the terms of your Final Order changed or modified will be dependent on your and your attorney’s ability to put forth a convincing case that the facts (or results) of the changed circumstances dictate the need for changes to ensure equity for the parties involved or to meet the best interest of the children.
As you can see, these issues can be complicated, and there are many if’s, and’s, & but’s involved when analyzing whether your modification case would be successful in a South Carolina family court. Therefore, if you are interested in seeking a modification of a prior Order, you would be wise to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to discuss the options available to you based on the facts of your specific case.
Serious cases deserve serious lawyers, and as with many things in life, you get what you pay for – so seek out the best family law attorney that you can find to help with your case. If you are considering modifying your divorce decree, don’t make any decisions about how to proceed before talking with a trusted attorney in your area. Without discussing your situation with an attorney, you may not get what you want or what is beneficial to your future.
If you’re in South Carolina, it’s important to contact an experienced family court attorney like J. Benjamin Stevens today to discuss your specific situation. Even if you aren’t in South Carolina, Mr. Stevens is happy to offer referrals to a well-qualified attorney located in your state.
Ben Stevens has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over twenty-five years, handling all matters of family law, such as prenuptial agreements, divorce, separation, alimony, and child custody. Our firm is well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
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Author: J. Benjamin Stevens
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the charlotte observer and Mike Hunter.
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