Change Your Divorce Decree And Custody Orders Through Amended Divorce Decrees
Life doesn’t end after divorce. You can modify a pre-existing court order’s financial or child-related agreement – with the right justifications and help from The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC.
Once A Divorce Is Final, Can It Be Changed In Maryland?
Yes, official divorce decrees in Maryland can be changed – “modified” – after they’ve been issued by the court.
Per Maryland law, either you or your ex may request a divorce modification at any time.
What Do Maryland Judges Consider An “Extenuating Circumstance” To Modify Divorce Decrees?
You can’t request changes to your divorce decree just because you no longer want to abide by the terms. File a motion to change the decree without solid evidence of an “extenuating circumstance,” and Maryland courts will simply reject your request.
So, what counts as a significant enough change in circumstances to justify a divorce modification?
Basically, Maryland courts consider big changes in location, money, health, and other major events that definitely impact the implementation of the original divorce decree.
Maryland will likely consider a motion to modify a divorce decree if:
- Your or your ex’s income has either substantially increased (e.g., a new job or raise), or decreased (e.g., job loss or cut hours)
- You or your ex need to move, making the original custody or visitation schedule impossible
- More money is needed to properly care for any involved child, such as if their medical needs suddenly increase or if they need to attend college
- An inheritance changes either your or your ex’s circumstances
- Fraud from either party is uncovered past the 30-day decree appeal deadline
- An involved child’s health or well-being is suddenly at risk due to abuse or other circumstances
What Is The Difference Between A Divorce Appeal And A Divorce Modification?
Basically, you ask for a modification to fix one part of a divorce decree later; you ask for an appeal when you think the whole divorce decree itself isn’t right.
If you or your family’s circumstances change – which happens as life marches on – then you’ll want to fix a section or two of the official court decree so it still works. That’s what a motion to modify handles.
On the other hand, you request a divorce appeal if you think the entire divorce decree needs to be thrown out or is otherwise invalid.
Appeals happen if you:
- Think the judge didn’t rule correctly based on Maryland law
- Discover that your ex committed fraud after the divorce decree is finalized
- Learned new facts after the divorce decree was issued that you couldn’t have discovered during the original trial
You can also only file an appeal of your divorce decree within the first 30 days. Otherwise, you’re stuck with that divorce decree as the official court order. Requests to modify portions of the decree can be made generally at any time, however.
A divorce appeal is structured differently than a normal divorce proceeding, as well. In Maryland, the appeal process consists basically of written evidence through memos to prove the case’s legal merit, rather than during a trial.
This may require appellate lawyers who specialize in this type of evidence presentation, rather than litigation attorneys who regularly argue points in a courtroom.
(That said, JC Law can handle both types of cases – which means your divorce litigator can inform their teammates within the Firm of exactly what happened during the case and get them up to speed quickly.)
If you want to appeal your divorce decree, then decide quickly – and be prepared for a possibly expensive venture. Maryland judges can require you to not only pay for your own legal fees, but also that of the other party. After all, they must respond to your appeal.
Can You Modify A Maryland Divorce Decree From Another State?
Yes, you can request a modification of a Maryland divorce decree from another state if the circumstances warrant.
However, the request to modify the decree must be in the original Maryland court which issued the order. That court has legal “jurisdiction” over that order. As a rule, another state’s court cannot rule on or otherwise modify that divorce decree.
“My ex-wife filed for a custody modification. The day of the trial, [my attorney] knew the LAW and we won our trial.”
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