Can You Reverse or Change a Divorce Decree?
In a divorce, sometimes parties work collaboratively towards a Consent Decree of divorce. Other times, a party may pursue a Decree by default if the opposing party does not respond to the initial filing. In other cases, a dissolution will resolve in a Decree that is entered after a trial on the issues. In any of these circumstances, a party to a divorce may find themselves asking if they can reverse or change a divorce decree in part or in total.
What is a Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is a legal document signed by a judge that both formalizes and finalizes the jurisdictional findings for a divorce, the pronouncement for divorce, and the terms of the divorce (i.e. child or spousal support, custody/legal decision-making, and division of property and debts).
Can You Reverse a Divorce Decree?
Regardless of whether it’s been contested by either party, once a judge has agreed on a divorce decree, it’s final. It becomes a court order that both parties are then required to abide by.
This means that, even if a divorce decree was uncontested by either party, it still can’t be reversed except by a successful and timely-filed appeal or post-Decree motion.
Extenuating Circumstances May Affect Reversal
Despite a divorce decree being a final and formal order from a judge, there are some extenuating circumstances that can influence its reversal:
Fraud During the Process
If evidence is uncovered that suggests there was fraud that occurred during the signing of an uncontested decree, you should make your attorney and the court aware.
For example, if you found out your spouse submitted a Consent Decree that contained pages that were inserted after you signed the rest of the document, the Court may find that the fraudulent activity was such that the Decree should be reversed.
Your Signature was Forced
If the other party forced you to sign the decree based on threats to you, it could weaken its validity. By bringing it up to the court, you may be able to completely overturn the decree.
Divorce Decrees Can be Modified
Once signed by a judge, a divorce decree cannot be reversed. Some of the terms can, however, be modified. If you can prove to the court there have been significant developments or changes relating to spousal maintenance, child support, legal decision-making, or parenting time the Court has continuing jurisdiction to hear your requests for changes to the Decree. Under some circumstances, a Decree’s property and debt division may be readdressed if the opposing party subsequently filed bankruptcy after the entry of a Consent Decree.
Never Pursue Divorce Decree Amendments Without Professional Advice
If you’d like details of your divorce decree modified or seek to see it completely overturned, consult an attorney first. By doing so, you’ll have both professional representation and a clear understanding of how you may be able to achieve your desired outcome.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Reverse or Change a Divorce Decree, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Lindsay A.M. Olivarez at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.
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