Saturday, May 9, 2009

Part III - Seeking Modification of Your Divorce Decree

Today I am presenting to you the third in a series of ten postings about divorce decrees. These will all refer to post decree actions. Most of the information is of general applicability but is cited to Indiana law where appropriate.

The most common modifications involve child custody, child support, visitation and alimony. I will discuss child custody, child support and visitation in detail under each of those topics later. For this topic today I will be presenting information about modifications generally.

Although it is possible to modify your divorce decree, and it does get done often, it is still an uphill battle. Do not take lightly the necessity to get the best original decree you can for yourself. Statutory provisions limit the time and manner in which decrees may be modified. You should always have qualified counsel before proceeding through a divorce or seeking to modify the provisions if circumstances have changed.

A change in circumstances after the original divorce decree was entered may require you to modify certain provisions of that decree. The law surrounding a petition to modify is very limited, and you should determine whether a modification is possible on a case-by-case basis. In Indiana there is no longer an action for alimony. Instead it has been woven into child support payment orders. All other modifications are controlled by statute.

If you have obtained a final decree in which you are not satisfied then you should examine all the ways in which you can attack that decree. Filing a petition to modify may not be th best way and could foreclose on other rights you may have. If it has been within 30 days you can file a Notice of Appeal or a Motion to Correct error. You do not want to take these actions without proper assistance. There are many attorneys who do not do appeals because of the very complex and technical nature of them.

If it has been over 30 days then you are limited to seeking a modification. Currently the Indiana Trial Rules allow for a change of judge as of right if you seek to modify your decree. If you have upset the judge or you feel that the judge was biased towards you then you should seek a change of judge.

For particular types of modifications please read my upcoming postings. If you are a pro se litigant I strongly suggest that you seek counsel. If you want to be represented by an attorney and need help selecting one I am available to do that. I can also assist you if you wish to represent yourself.

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©2008, 2009 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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