Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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Can Any Part of a Divorce Decree Be Reversed?

A divorce decree is a court order that is final and legally binding on both parties. Besides declaring the marriage legally over, it decides division of property, custody, and support.

Reversing any part of the decision requires an appeal to a higher court here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. In the case of both parties reconciling and wanting to reverse their divorce entirely, several states will allow reversal, if within a certain timeframe; but for most states, even when the request is mutual, the divorce decree cannot be reversed.

Appealing aspects of the ruling

You can appeal certain decisions of the court, such as support and alimony, child custody, and division of property. However, it cannot be on the basis that you think the judgment is "unfair." There must be compelling legal reasons.

Choose a lawyer who is experienced in appealing family law cases. Not all lawyers have this experience. Sit down with your lawyer and discuss your options. Legal errors or evidentiary errors are the most successful bases when appealing a ruling. Your lawyer should comb the decision for any errors that might have occurred and explain to you the errors and the standard of review that applies.

Factual errors have to be significant and very well documented to bring about a successful appeal. Division of property is rarely overturned unless clear evidence of fraud or hiding of assets is uncovered.

Modification of the ruling

Life situations change. Sometimes they change so much that the conditions of the divorce should be adjusted, at which point you would file a "motion to modify," generally in the same court where the original decree was handed down.

Modification of child support:  Major changes in the financial position of the parent or the needs of the child could justify a modification. Examples include the parent getting laid off or the child incurring extensive medical bills.

Modification of spousal support: Spousal support can be modified with regard to the amount or duration of support when there have been significant changes in circumstances for either former spouse. One cannot demand more money simply because the paying spouse has suddenly hit the lottery.  In rare cases an alimony agreement is non-modifiable.

Modification of child custody: A modification can be ordered if the judge determines it is in the best interests of the child. Situations might include the custodial parent's arrest, strong concerns about neglect or abuse, or a deterioration of living conditions.

Appeals and motions to modify can be legally complicated and emotionally draining. We are experienced in these areas and can guide you through them. Contact us today so we can discuss how we can help you.

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