A couple talking to a judge to determine if they can change a divorce agreement

Can a Judge Change a Divorce Agreement if Your Situation Changes?

Life goes on after completing a divorce in Texas, but it’s not uncommon to encounter challenges when an original divorce agreement no longer aligns with your current circumstances.

The court order may not reflect your new living situation post-divorce. So, can a judge change a divorce agreement in your situation? Yes, they can enact a formal change through the modification process – if your situation qualifies.

Family court judges possess the authority to modify an original order if there has been “a material and substantial change of circumstances.” Let’s dive into how the divorce modification process works in Texas.

A Guide to Changing Divorce Agreements in Texas

Divorce proceedings come with various agreements, decrees, and rulings based largely on the current and foreseeable futures of the parties involved. Judges in Texas work diligently to craft decisions that will allow parties to a divorce to make meaningful lives apart from one another.

However, the law has the flexibility to support life changes. The Texas Family Code allows parties to seek changes to agreements under certain circumstances.

In general, a change will be allowed when there has been a material change in the life of one of the parties to the divorce decree. This could include significant shifts in income, employment status, parenting plans, or living arrangements, and the affected parties typically include spouses and their children.

Consider how a modification works in these common divorce-related situations:

Child Support Modifications

Requests for child support modifications are common because parents’ financial situations can change over the years.

Originally, a child support decree is based on the financial circumstances of the parties at the time of the divorce. Later on, however, fortunes may change.

  • The parent paying child support might lose their job and become unemployed for a long stretch of time.
  • Conversely, the paying parent might receive a major raise or promotion, entitling the receiving spouse to greater support.

Both of these material changes could serve as proper grounds for child support changes in Texas if the change in income is drastic enough.

Children also experience life changes that may lead to a change in child support orders. For instance, a child may develop a serious medical condition or suffer an injury requiring increased, regular medical outlays from the parents. The opposite is also true. Reductions in medical expenses can also work to reduce the paying parent’s child support payments.

Child Custody Modifications

Child custody modifications may also be sought. Once again, there must be a material change in at least one of the parties’ lives for any change to the order to be considered.

For example, long-term work or school schedule changes can lead one or both parties to seek a change in the court’s custody agreement. A parent might also have to relocate for their job. A change to the custody and parenting time schedule could solve many of the problems that arise. 

Another reason a parent may seek to change a child custody agreement involves the other parent’s fitness. If one of the parents involved in the divorce engages in unfit behavior, the other parent can seek a modification. Unfit behavior includes crime, drug use, abuse, and other harmful activities that place the child at risk.

Alimony Modifications

As with child support change cases, alimony modification cases are typically allowed when one or both parties experience a material change. What is considered to be a material change?

  • A substantial change in finances.
  • Either spouse re-marries.
  • Loss of income for the paying spouse.
  • Increased income from a promotion or raise.

For example, if the spouse who is entitled to receive payments re-marries, they may no longer be entitled to spousal maintenance payments from the original spouse.

Can a Judge Change a Divorce Agreement in Your Situation? Call Parker & Aguilar for Help

Can a judge change a divorce agreement in Texas? The answer is yes. When a material change has occurred, a judge may make changes to prior rulings.

Not every change is material, however. The courts closely scrutinize any requests to change original orders. Because you need to be sure that your situation rises to the level of formal change, it’s important to work with a seasoned family law attorney in Texas.

Our divorce lawyers at Parker & Aguilar have extensive experience helping individuals with changes or proposed changes to divorce agreements. Life sometimes outgrows court rulings, and we’re ready to help you seek the necessary modifications.

We currently support spouses in Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County, and Matagorda County. If you live in one of these counties, contact our offices ​​to discuss your post-divorce situation.

You can reach us at 979-267-7660 (Angleton office) or 281-944-5485 (Sugar Land office) to speak with a seasoned family law attorney. Let us help you evaluate the strength of your case to modify a final divorce order.