Changing a Settlement

The judgment of divorce marks the end of the marriage and is a final statement of the agreement. But life is not static—circumstances change and adjustments to the judgment may be needed.

Changing an order is difficult but not impossible. Your attorney can help you negotiate changes to the divorce settlement, which may require filing a motion or a recommendation by the Friend of the Court. Settlement issues usually don’t go away or get better as time goes by, so consult your attorney as soon as a problem or the need for a change becomes known.

Child support and custody

Changes in parenting time, custody order or child support may be needed as children grow up and their needs change. For example:

  • Children reach age 18 or graduate from high school, and child support payments need to be adjusted for the remaining minor children
  • The amount of child support has not been reviewed in many years
  • A change in one parent’s income or health requires an adjustment in the amount of child support or spousal support
  • One parent does not pay court-ordered college expenses
  • One parent fails to provide proof of current life insurance premiums or provide court-ordered life insurance coverage to secure child support or spousal support
  • Children report abuse at the home of a parent or a parent’s partner
  • A child is performing poorly in school or getting in trouble with the law and the custodial parent needs help with parenting
  • A parent wants to move out of state with the children
  • A parent wants to move more than 100 miles away with the children and retain joint custody.


The property sections of the judgment are final unless you can show fraud and mutual mistake soon after the judgment has been signed. However, sometimes one partner of the marriage does not follow the judgment. For example, they do not paid the debts assigned them or pay them late—or they do not pay the amount awarded to their partner. The judge may make additional rulings so that both spouses comply with all the requirements of the judgment.