Modification of Missouri Divorce Decrees: What’s Allowed

Divorce can be an incredibly challenging experience, both emotionally and financially. When the final decree is issued, it’s natural to hope that it will bring closure and allow both parties to move forward. However, life is unpredictable, and circumstances can change over time. Fortunately, Missouri law recognizes this and provides a way to modify divorce decrees in certain situations. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of modifying a divorce decree in Missouri, discussing what’s allowed and how to navigate the process.

Unraveling the Complexity of Missouri Divorce Decrees

A divorce decree serves as a legal order that formally terminates a marriage and establishes the rights and responsibilities of each party. It covers critical aspects such as child custody, visitation, spousal support, property division, and other pertinent matters concerning the dissolution of the marriage. In Missouri, divorce decrees are based on either the mutually agreed-upon terms of the parties or the judge’s decision in cases where no agreement can be reached.

The Vortex of Child Custody Modifications

Child custody tends to be one area that often necessitates modification. To proceed with a child custody modification in Missouri, the requesting party must demonstrate to the court that there has been a substantial and ongoing change in circumstances since the original order was issued.

For a modification to be warranted, the change in circumstances must be significant enough to warrant a reevaluation of the custody arrangement. For example, if a parent has relocated and can no longer fulfill the requirements of the existing custody order, or if a parent’s living conditions are no longer suitable, a modification may be necessary. Factors that courts consider when evaluating a change in circumstances include alterations in work schedules, a child’s evolving medical or educational needs, or a parent’s remarriage.

To initiate a modification of child custody, the petitioner must submit a written motion to the court that issued the original order. Subsequently, the other parent will have an opportunity to respond and present evidence countering the proposed change. Ultimately, a judge will analyze the evidence and make a decision based on what serves the best interests of the child involved.

The Jigsaw of Child Support Modifications

Modifying child support is another avenue available in Missouri. To pursue a modification of a child support order, the requesting party must demonstrate to the court that there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, rendering the current order inadequate.

A substantial and continuing change in circumstances can encompass various scenarios, including loss of income, job loss or reduction in income, disability, or changes in the child’s needs. Generally, a modification may be warranted if the current child support obligation deviates by at least 10 percent from the guidelines, or if the proposed change entails an increase or decrease of $50 or more per month.

Unlike child custody modifications, child support modifications typically don’t require a formal hearing. Ideally, the parties involved can reach an agreement and present it to the court for approval. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, the requesting party must file a motion and participate in a hearing.

The Labyrinth of Spousal Support Modifications

Spousal support, also commonly known as alimony, refers to the financial support provided by one ex-spouse to the other after the divorce. While modifications of spousal support are permitted in Missouri, they present a greater challenge compared to child support or custody modifications.

Modification of spousal support may be granted if the party requesting it can establish a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that justifies the modification. Examples of such changes include a significant increase or decrease in the paying spouse’s income, alterations in the recipient’s financial situation, or the remarriage or cohabitation of the recipient with a new partner.

Analogous to child custody modifications, the party seeking a modification must file a motion with the court, allowing the other party an opportunity to respond. Ultimately, a judge will assess the evidence and make a decision based on the best interests of both parties involved.

In Conclusion: Crafting a New Path Forward

In conclusion, Missouri law recognizes the need for modifications to divorce decrees in certain circumstances. Child custody, child support, and spousal support are the three most common areas in which modifications may become necessary. However, for modifications to be considered, the changes must be substantial and ongoing. It is highly recommended to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney when contemplating a modification. Their expertise will help you navigate your legal rights and the specific process required to modify a divorce decree, ultimately guiding you towards forging a new path forward.

Scroll to Top