The term “final” suggests completion, as though nothing further is to come. For example, the final score in a baseball game signifies the end of the game. There will be no more innings and no more runs. It is over. The finality of something is not always permanent in other situations, such as in a divorce. A Minnesota judge can issue a final decree but later decide to modify or change a portion or all of it.
Regarding divorce, final means that all proceedings are complete, the court has issued a ruling and the former spouses are formally divorced. The final decree makes it all official. However, either spouse may request a modification of the divorce decree, which often occurs when circumstances arise that are relevant to a former couple’s children.
Appropriate reasons to request modification of a divorce decree
There are numerous subtopics addressed in a divorce, such as property division, alimony, child support and child custody. There are many reasons why an individual might petition the court to modify a final decree:
- The parent paying child support loses a job or becomes incapacitated or incarcerated.
- One of the parents seeks to relocate for employment reasons.
- One party receives a substantial increase in income.
- One parent accuses the other of substance abuse or other behavior that has become a detriment to the children’s safety and well-being.
- The parent paying child support remarries and has stepchildren or additional biological children for whom he or she must provide.
There are many more issues that a family court judge might consider just cause for requesting modification of a final divorce decree.
Always be well-prepared to explain a request
When two people sign a divorce settlement, they agree to abide by the terms of the court order. The court does not make decisions lightly, so a person requesting modification must be prepared to provide evidence demonstrating need, as well as how the suggested changes would be in the best interest of a child or children who may be involved.