A divorce settlement is a legally binding agreement between two parties during the divorce process. This agreement can cover details such as property division, debts, spousal support, child support issues, and child custody issues.
While both parties will mutually agree upon a divorce settlement, it is possible for one party to feel dissatisfied with the terms of the settlement.
As each party begins their new life post-divorce and the new reality starts to take effect, they may realize that the settlement is not working in their favor. As a result, they may consider reopening a divorce settlement to find more suitable terms.
This situation begs the question: can a divorce settlement be reopened in Texas? Let’s explore the answer to this common question.
Texas Law on Reopening a Divorce Settlement
In most cases, reopening a divorce settlement in Texas is impossible. The reason is that under the state’s divorce law, the agreement is binding and set in stone once the court approves it. However, a few scenarios can allow for a reopening divorce settlement.
If a party was found to have knowingly misled the other when coming to an agreement, then a court can order that a settlement is reopened.
For example, suppose one party fails to disclose information about their assets, and the settlement terms are based on these false representations. In that case, this may constitute fraud and result in reopening the settlement agreement.
A mistake in the agreement is another potential reason for reopening a divorce settlement in Texas. If an error was made and both parties were unaware of it during the original settlement, the case could be reopened.
The mistake must be severe enough to significantly affect the outcome of the agreement. For example, if the division of assets was incorrectly calculated, this might constitute grounds to reopen the settlement.
Undue influence or duress can also result in a settlement being reopened. If either party can prove that the other forced them into an agreement, this may be grounds for reopening the settlement.
An example of this grounds for reopening a divorce includes if one party threatened the other with physical harm if they did not agree to specific terms laid out in the settlement.
– Overall, to reopen a divorce settlement in Texas, one party must show that there is reasonable cause and present evidence to the court. If a judge finds sufficient evidence to support the claim, they may grant a motion to reopen.
Alternative Option: Modifying a Previous Order
Reopening a divorce settlement is not always possible. In some cases, it may be better to pursue an alternative option, such as modifying a previous order.
Modifying a previous order is the process of changing some aspects of a settlement without reopening the entire agreement. In contrast, reopening a settlement would involve revisiting the entire agreement and potentially changing all of the terms.
To modify a divorce order in Texas, you must show that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the divorce agreement was signed. These changes must be related to the settlement terms you are trying to modify and must be documented.
– For example, if you are trying to modify a spousal support agreement due to a change in income, you must provide evidence supporting your claim. On the other hand, if you are trying to modify a child custody agreement due to changes in the home environment, you must provide evidence of these changes.
Once you have gathered all the necessary evidence, you must file a motion with the court. The other party will then have an opportunity to respond to the motion and put forth their own arguments. The court will decide based on the evidence presented by both parties.
If the court finds that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances and grants the motion to modify the agreement, then the settlement will be amended to reflect your new request.
Get Help From a Qualified Family Law Attorney
Reopening or modifying a divorce settlement in Texas is no small feat. You will need to navigate a complex legal process and present evidence to the court. It is vital to seek help from a qualified divorce attorney who can provide sound legal advice and guide you throughout the process.
When you turn to my family law office, I will provide the following support:
- Answer your specific questions about whether a divorce settlement can be reopened.
- Help you review the original divorce settlement terms.
- Review the circumstances that have changed in your situation.
- Determine which course of action is best for you.
From there, I will help you gather the necessary evidence and file a motion with the court. I will also represent you in court during any hearings or proceedings.
I currently help clients in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, and Harris County. If you want to re-open or modify a divorce settlement in one of these counties, please contact me to discuss your situation.
Call my offices today at 281-944-5485 or 979-267-7660 to schedule a consultation. I look forward to helping you arrive at a better outcome.