Separation Terms – When Ex-Partners Want Them Changed

A separation agreement or court order sets out decisions on matters such as financial support, child custody and property division after separation or divorce. What happens if one party – or both – no longer agrees with the terms and wants a change?

Property Division  Generally Immovable

In most cases, agreements and orders involving the division of property and debts cannot be changed. There may be exceptions, such as if the division involved fraud or mistakes arising from lack of full financial disclosure, but these can be hard to prove after the fact.

Other terms, such as spousal support, child support, custody and access stand a better chance at being altered. Here’s how.

Changes To A Separation Agreement

If an ex-couple parted ways with a separation agreement, and both agree to different terms later on, formalizing the change is fairly straightforward. They can simply make an amendment to the existing agreement or draft a new one entirely. In order for it to be enforceable, the terms must be legal and the document needs to be properly executed.

If the parties can’t agree, negotiation with the help of a lawyer may bring about a resolution. If not, other dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, may work. Failing that, the parties may need to bring the matter to court.

ChangesTo A Court Order

If ex-partners have an existing court order, and they both agree they want to change it, they can file the required documents with the court. Depending on issue, a judge will usually review the facts and make an order without requiring the parties to attend in court.

If one party doesn’t agree to a change in an existing court order, a judge will need to deliberate on the matter. The party seeking the change must provide proof of a material change in circumstances (MCIC). This involves a change so significant in nature that, had it been known at the time that the original court order was issued, the terms would have been impacted. If the judge is convinced of the MCIC and that altering the order is the right solution, then change becomes official.

Separated or divorced?

Need a change?

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