Can I Modify My Divorce Settlement?
One of the primary parts of any divorce case is the property settlement. In Illinois, both spouses are entitled to receive equitable shares of any marital property—which refers to most property accumulated during the marriage. Spousal or child support may also come along with this agreement. However, it can take some time and discussion to arrive at a settlement that is advantageous to both spouses, and there is a method by which property settlements can be appealed or modified if such becomes necessary.
Property Agreement Modifications
Illinois courts generally favor couples working out their own property settlements, given that they are the most familiar with the nature of the assets involved. It also helps to cut down on the number of cases on the docket. Also, if you and your spouse are the only two people involved in working out a property settlement, it is far easier to make changes. At times, though, the court must get involved. Illinois family courts have the legal authority to create a support and property settlement that fits the needs of both spouses, and will often do so.
Property division settlements are not usually appealable or modifiable, unlike support payments, even if circumstances fundamentally change. In Illinois, the law is explicit: they are never modifiable. The only way to ensure obtaining a favorable property settlement is to negotiate an acceptable one before agreeing to finalize the divorce decree.
Unlike property settlements, spousal or child support agreements are generally modifiable if a spouse can show a significant change in circumstances. Some divorce agreements may establish that maintenance is not modifiable, but there is a strong presumption that such a provision will be held unconscionable. It is good public policy to allow modification if a “significant change” has occurred. A common example of a significant change is one parent losing a job or getting a new one.
Child support changes are somewhat more nuanced; there are many factors that may play into a decision to modify support. In Illinois, child support orders are eligible for modification every three years, or when a change in circumstances can be proven. It is far more likely that a child support order may be modified than an order for spousal support because the needs of children are nearly certain to change as they grow.
An Experienced Divorce Lawyer Can Help
Property and support agreements are by far the most complex aspects of most divorces. For help with yours, consulting a divorce attorney is the best option. The skilled Kane County family law attorneys at at our firm know that you need answers in plain language. We will work with you to help you understand your options and to pursue the best possible outcome. Contact our office today to set up a free initial appointment.