In Texas, the terms of an agreed final divorce decree can form a legally-binding contract. Further, it is also the order of the court which requires compliance. But, as time passes following the divorce, circumstances can change in ways that affect either party’s ability to continue complying with the document as written. Section 9.002 of the Texas Family Code grants the divorce courts with the sole authority to enforce the decisions of the final divorce decree. Depending on the issues involved, sometimes a court can modify or change a prior court order.
Quite often, divorced parties call on the lawyers at Goranson Bain Ausley after they’ve attempted to take matters in their own hands. Avoiding the courts may seem like a simple solution to addressing life’s changes, but it typically creates a more complex and painful situation than taking proper legal avenues from the start.
The Two Main Reasons For Informally Changing the Terms of Divorce
Occasionally, marriages break up simply because the spouses have grown apart; however, many marriages end because of substantial areas of conflict. Once couples go their separate ways, they generally need to maintain a degree of contact, especially when they have children. When they need to disregard the terms of divorce, they typically have two very different reasons:
Making informal changes: Many divorced couples are able to maintain a cordial relationship. That way when changed circumstances arise, such as a new job or unemployment, those individuals can be more accommodating about modifying the dates or amounts of child or spousal support payments as-needed.
Retribution: At the other end of the spectrum, some former spouses can use situations to retaliate or punish the other spouse. For example, if one partner asks to change a custody schedule during the holidays due to a health or family problem, the other partner may go out of their way to refuse to cooperate and make things more difficult on the person experiencing the hardship.
Modification Issues should be Formally Drafted
Regardless of the reason, it is important to understand that any long-term changes to a family law court order should be carefully considered and discussed with an attorney. It is important to understand the consequences of modifying certain provisions – for example, failure to pay child support can result in incarceration; or, moving a child to another city or state can cause dramatic changes to a possession order and parenting plan.
Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of family law and will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you have the information you need to make wise decisions and prepare for the future.