Can Permanent Orders for spousal support, child support, custody, parenting time, property, and debt division be modified for any reason?
Michele E. D’Onofrio’s Answer:
Not always. Settlements are deemed final. The parties each rely on knowing the terms of their settlement in order to plan their future lives. The court will enforce its orders. The terms of an agreement are long lasting and enforceable. This is why it is very important to have experienced legal counsel represent you and guide you through the legal process.
Orders for spousal support, child support, custody, or parenting time may be modified for specific reasons based on a substantial change in circumstances. The moving party seeking a modification bears the burden of proof evidencing a substantial change in circumstances through objective and documented evidence.
When one party seeks to revisit support obligations or parenting time, they must file a motion with the Court seeking to change a provision of the agreement citing the substantial change circumstances and documenting it with objective evidentiary proofs. The adverse party will have the opportunity to respond to the motion and may file a cross motion seeking relief as well. The decision rendered by the Court may include a provision for further information to be provided before a decision can be rendered such as a discovery period to obtain financial records and information or for a child psychologist to conduct a best interest evaluation. If material issues of fact are disputed, the Court may order a plenary hearing during which testimony is taken and evidence is presented before a decision is made.