16 May 2012

Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Explains Divorce Decree Modification

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After your divorce has been finalized, circumstances in your or your ex-spouse’s life may have changed. To file a motion for divorce decree modification in Tennessee, it’s best to consult a divorce lawyer.

Understanding the Divorce Decree           

The divorce decree, as your divorce lawyer will explain, is the final court order by which you and your former spouse must abide when terminating the marriage. It will outline the conditions for:

  • alimony payments;
  • the division of property;
  • child custody;
  • child visitation; and
  • child support.

While a divorce decree can be appealed to a higher court to overturn the judge’s decision, a divorce decree modification seeks to adjust the details of the original agreement. If you or your ex-spouse has experienced a change in circumstances, a motion may be filed in family court to modify the divorce decree.

The modification may request an increase or decrease of spousal support, revisions to child custody and visitation rights, and/or adjustments to child support. Property divisions outlined in the divorce decree cannot typically be changed post-divorce.

When a Divorce Decree Modification is Needed

If you decide to modify the divorce decree, you must provide evidence of a substantial and material change of circumstances that occurred after the divorce agreement. Some examples include:

  • Alimony – It may be possible to alter the amount of spousal support payments if either party’s income changes considerably, there is an increase or decrease to the cost of living, the spouse receiving alimony is found to be living with someone else, or the spouse paying alimony is under new support obligations.
  • Child support – Payments may be modified when there is a 15% change in the gross income of the non-custodial parent, there is a change in the child’s expenses, or one parent has become disabled.
  • Child custody - The parent named as the primary residential parent may be changed in cases where there is serious mistreatment or neglect of the child, there are repeated court order violations, or the child prefers to live with the other parent.
  • Child visitation schedules – When the schedules of parent or child changes over time so that it is impossible to adhere to the original visitation schedule, or if one parent willfully denies the other court-ordered visitation time, a motion to modify visitation may be made to offset lost bonding time.
  • Relocation – If one parent has decided to move more than 100 miles away from the other parent without consent, the relocation can be granted or denied by the court.
  • Clerical errors – If a clerical error was made in the original divorce decree, the court can modify any portion of the judgment to rectify the mistake.
  • Name changes – If you have decided after the divorce decree was finalized to revert back to your unmarried surname.

A Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Can Help Guide You Through the Process

Located in Memphis, the Miles Mason Family Law Group serves the areas of west Tennessee and eastern Arkansas. The dedicated divorce lawyer team at Miles Mason will assess the particulars of your divorce case and strategize the best approach to meet your goals. They understanding the emotional and financial turmoil of divorce, and can provide counselors to help you through this stressful time. To obtain a copy of their free e-book Your First Steps: 7 Steps Planning Your Tennessee Divorce, or to schedule a consultation, call (901) 683-1850 today.

Miles Mason


Memphis divorce and family lawyer, Miles Mason, Sr. is the founder of Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC. For more information about our professional staff, see our Meet the Team page.

One Response to Tennessee Divorce Lawyer Explains Divorce Decree Modification
  1. This is a good article on when a divorce decree modification is needed. You gave a good explanation of what qualifies as a change in circumstances. This is the type of legal education family law attorneys should be blogging about.


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