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What to Consider When Modifying Your Divorce Decree

Did circumstances fundamentally change after your divorce? If so, the original terms of your divorce decree may no longer be fair, equitable, or applicable. Indiana allows parties to modify a divorce decree if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Anyone seeking a modification of a divorce decree must be prepared to present a strong, well-supported petition. In this article, our Indianapolis divorce attorney explains the most important things to know about modifying your divorce decree in Indiana.  

What is a Divorce Decree Modification in Indiana?

Simply put, a divorce modification is any change (amendment) to the original divorce decree. In Indiana, it is possible to get a divorce decree modifying if the parties still owe each other ongoing obligations. Some examples of ongoing family obligations that may be in a divorce decree include: 

To be clear, the Indiana divorce decree modification process exists for ongoing obligations. Other issues in a divorce decree—such as the final distribution of assets—are generally not subject to modification. 

Indiana Law: Modification Requires Substantial Change in Circumstances

Indiana courts presume that the terms of the final divorce decree are appropriate. The modification process is not an opportunity to re-litigate a divorce. You cannot get a modification of a divorce decree simply because you were unhappy with the previous terms. Instead, a divorce modification requires proving a substantial and unanticipated change in circumstances. In other words, something big must have changed since your divorce was finalized that renders the terms outdated.  

Important Consideration: You Must Make a Strong Case for Your Desired Modification

As an example, imagine that you and your former spouse have a child custody order as part of your divorce decree. After three years have gone by, there has been a significant change in your living circumstances. Your former spouse (co-parent) relocated hundreds of miles away for a new job. Under Indiana law (Indiana Code § 31-17-2-21), you have the right to seek a modification of the existing custody order on the grounds that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. 

That being said, you will not automatically get the specific modification that you desire simply because you can prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This is one of the most important considerations to keep in mind when petitioning for a divorce decree modification: You must present a strong, well-supported case that your desired modification is fair and proper given the specific way in which things have changed. 

Get Help From a Divorce Lawyer in Indianapolis

At López Law Office, our Indianapolis divorce attorney goes above and beyond to protect the rights and interests of clients. If you have any specific questions or concerns about divorce modifications, we are here to help. Call us now or send us a direct message to book your confidential appointment with an attorney. From our office in Indianapolis, we provide divorce and family law representation throughout Central Indiana, including in Marion County.

Vanessa López Aguilera

Attorney Vanessa López Aguilera represents clients in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Area