In rare cases — when the decision of a judge was obviously unlawful or unfair — a divorced person can appeal the decision to try and get it changed. In most cases, when a judge makes a decision, the decision is usually final.

However, spouses might be able to modify their divorce orders at a later time. Such a modification could receive approval if the modification relates to a significant change in circumstances relating to one or more parties affected by the divorce orders.

How do divorce modifications work?

Unlike an appeal, which involves a review of your divorce orders by a higher court, a request for modification involves going back to the same court that made your decision. In a divorce modification request, you’ll ask the court to change specific aspects of your divorce orders.

A divorce modification will usually involve a request to change one or more of the following aspects of your divorce order:

  • Child custody arrangements
  • Visitation schedules
  • Spousal support
  • Child support

In order to make such a request, you’ll file a “motion to modify” your divorce judgment. Let’s say your ex-spouse received primary physical custody of your children. However, your ex was just arrested for criminal activity and sentenced to jail. Based on these new facts, you can ask the court to award you primary physical custody so that you can now care for your children.

Alternatively, imagine you’re paying $1,000 monthly in child support, but you just lost your job due to the poor economy and you don’t know when you’ll be able to find work again. The court may agree to reduce your monthly child support obligation so that your child support payments more accurately reflect your current financial circumstances.

The key to winning a motion to modify your divorce orders

The key to winning a motion to modify your divorce orders involves your ability to prove that your change in circumstances was “substantial” enough to warrant a change in your divorce orders. By strategically presenting your case, by citing appropriate legal standards and other Connecticut family laws, you might just succeed in this regard. Ultimately, however, there are no guarantees and the decision will be up to the family law court whether to award or deny your request.