There are a lot of reasons why people seek to modify their divorce decrees. One major reason is that they have been operating under the decree and realize that it is inadequate for their needs. It could be possible that the divorce decree was ambiguous. It is possible that the parties overlooked some important aspects that should have been covered while drafting and negotiating the contents of the decree. They could otherwise be unsatisfied with the way things have been going. It is also possible that modifications are needed in a divorce decree due to the aftermath of a significant and material change in circumstances.
“Significant and material change in circumstances” are magic words under the law. They are required for the court to have the ability to modify a final domestic decree. A significant change of circumstances will vary from person to person and case to case. Utah law is clear that the change has to be unforeseen at the time of the decree. The change has to affect the decree in such a way that it cannot function the way that the parties had anticipated or expected it to. The modification you seek has to relate to the change in circumstances.
Finally, a lot of people create their own divorce decrees to keep costs down. They can find out very quickly that it simply does not work, and they need to come back for new orders.
What Is The Legal Standard Or Basis Needed To Modify A Final Decree In Utah?
The legal standard to modify a final decree in Utah is a significant and material change circumstances. However, it’s important to understand that it’s always better to get it right the first time. Utah law places an additional burden on the moving party seeking to modify an order. The additional burden is to show that a material and significant change in circumstances has taken place and was unforeseen since the entry of the divorce decree.
Interestingly, there are a lot of cases on the subject. That bar is always present, but it can be lowered to show that the final divorce decree is not necessarily as worthy of confidence as others might be. This is generally the case when the court never took evidence or made a ruling in the underlying divorce case. The divorce decree was a product of a stipulation. This is a very fact-dependent analysis that each court must undertake in ruling on a petition to modify. Therefore, it’s very important that the moving party provide the court with enough information to make that finding.
Some important factors for the court to consider are how long it took the parties to get to their divorce decree from the time the petition was filed, whether the parties had attorneys, whether they attended mediation, whether they held hearings to obtain temporary orders, and whether either party was unable to meaningfully participate in the divorce process. For example, was one of the parties so emotionally distraught that they were unable to meaningfully participate in the divorce process? Did their financial situation prevent them from being able to properly participate? Any factor that would help the court consider the modification will be taken into account.
While the court places a high value on the finality of cases, they allow modifications because they recognize that the children’s best interests are very important. They leave the door open to make additional changes when the best interests for children require it.
Can Child Support Be Increased If The Child Support Obligor Is Making Substantially More Money Than He Or She Was At The Time The Judgment Was Made Final?
Child support can be increased if the obligor (the individual with the obligation to pay money) is making more money than he or she was at the time the judgement was made final. The child support code is very clear that parties can come back at any time if a change is significant enough. If the moving party asks for a recalculation of child support less than three years since the entry of the last order of child support, that burden is significantly higher. After three years, the burden lowers. The change does not have to be as big as previously required. However, there will always be a percentage threshold that the court requires for changes in child support.
Can Child Support Payments Be Reduced If I Lose My Job?
Child support payments can be reduced if an obligor loses their job. A person wanting a reduction in child support should not delay in asking for a reduction. Each month that passes with a valid child support order in place is a month that the court no longer has jurisdiction to go back and change, unless there is a pending motion or petition to change the child support. The court’s jurisdiction to modify retroactively is limited to the first full month after the moving party asked for the change (and serves the request on the opposing party.)
The change must be permanent or not of a temporary nature in order for the court to use it as a basis. It is worth noting that a person’s responsibility to provide for their children is not eliminated simply because employment was lost.
For more information on Family Law In Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 923-6565 today.