Divorce Modification Lawyer in Huntsville
Uncontested Divorce Modifications Starting at $600
Contested Modification Retainers Starting at $2000
Call us today at (256) 665-9473
When your divorce was final you received a divorce decree, which was the final order from the judge laying out the terms of your divorce. Our divorce modification lawyers in Huntsville can file your petition to modify the decree in Madison County, Alabama. However, how much it costs and how successful you will likely be depends on your particular circumstances. In general though, it is much cheaper and easier if both parties are in agreement on the changes than if they are not.
If both parties are in agreement on the changes then we can file an uncontested divorce modification in Madison County for a flat fee. Our divorce modification lawyers in Huntsville charge a flat fee of $600 to prepare and file your petition to modify your prior decree by agreement. There is also a filing fee, which in Madison County is about $427. A divorce modification by agreement is mostly paperwork and can be done usually without any hearings or in person appointments with the modification lawyer in Huntsville. Our divorce modification lawyers just prepare the paperwork, get it to you and your ex-spouse to sign and execute, then you get the signed paperwork back to us to file and we file it. Once it is filed, the judge should Order the new changes pretty quickly without a hearing unless there are issues in the new agreement involving children or other things that the judge would like to have a hearing about.
If you and your ex-spouse are not in agreement on the changes then you will have to file a contested divorce modification. To do this, our divorce modification lawyers in Huntsville require a retainer up front of at least $2000 plus filing fee. This retainer is used for the family law attorney to bill out of at an hourly rate until it is exhausted. To determine what the divorce modification lawyer in Huntsville will need up front, they need to determine how many hours they feel will be needed to get the process going and what kind of things you are wanting to go back and change.
If you and your former spouse agreed on the terms of your divorce, such as in an uncontested divorce, then the decree should reflect that agreement. If you had a contested divorce, the decree reflects the judge’s decision about how to divide your assets and how the rest of your post-married life will be divided. The divorce decree is a legally binding document, so you will have to convince a judge that a modification is warranted. At the same time, the court understands circumstances can change over time and that it can be appropriate under the right conditions to update the terms of your divorce.
Divorce Modifications in Huntsville & Madison County
If your divorce was finalized in Madison County, your divorce modification lawyer in Huntsville will file a Petition for Modification in the Madison County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. If you are trying to file it on your own, then be sure that the plaintiff and defendant’s names are styled the same (i.e., your names must match identically) on the petition as the names on your divorce decree. You should also complete the top section of a summons. And even if you have no children, you must submit from CS-47, the Child Support Information Sheet. These forms are available on the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s website under Family Court. From there you can download from C-Series forms, or you may pick up copies in the Family Court Division of the Circuit Court at the Madison County Courthouse. The filing fee for the Modification in Madison County is $427.00.
If you file it yourself, then you would have to go before the judge and present evidence, call witnesses, and otherwise conduct a hearing to convince the judge to make the changes. It is almost always best to hire a local divorce modification lawyer in Huntsville to file this for you. This is because a Huntsville family law attorney can argue your case to the judge on your behalf since they know the factors the Court will consider and can present testimony and other evidence to the judge in the correct manner.
One common reason to petition for modification is related to alimony. This can be warranted for several reasons. Maybe your ex-spouse makes significantly more money now than they did when you were married. Maybe your ex-spouse won the lottery and you don’t feel you should have to keep paying them alimony now that your ex is financially independent. Whatever the reason for the request may be, there should be some kind of “material change” in your circumstances to justify petitioning the court for a modification.
Another example of a material change could be that your ex-spouse remarries. Let’s say you make $100,000 per year, and your ex-spouse makes $45,000 per year. You were ordered to pay alimony at your initial divorce decree. Recently, your ex-spouse got remarried to someone that makes $150,000 per year. The court would certainly take your ex-spouse’s change in lifestyle into consideration when determining whether to update your alimony payment amounts or to discontinue them entirely.
Most of the terms of your divorce can be modified, except the division of property. That must be followed as determined in the original divorce decree. If your ex-spouse is not following the terms of the original decree, you can petition the court for Rule Nisi, which compels your ex-spouse to follow the order. Some common reasons to file a Rule Nisi petition are: Failure to pay child support, prohibiting communications with a parent and their child, failure to pay medical expenses for a child, not paying court-ordered insurance, failure to comply with visitation conditions, withholding of awarded moneys and/or property, and any other obligations imposed by the court. There is a filing fee for this Contempt petition and it can vary by county. In Madison County, the filing fee for a Petition for Rule Nisi is $427.00. Additional fees for Sheriff service and certified mail to serve process will also apply.
Modification of Child Support is another common request. Courts follow the “best interest of the child” standard in making all custody determinations. This is broad and allows the judge a lot of discretion in weighing out the best interests of the child. Anything the judge deems relevant about your life and circumstances can be considered when making his decision. If the non-custodial parent requests a modification in custody terms, the court applies what’s called the McClendon standard. To meet this standard, the non-custodial parent must show that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the initial or previous judgment regarding custody in the case, that the child’s best interest will be promoted materially by a change in custody, and that the benefits of the custody change will more than balance the intrinsic disruptive effects which may result from a change in custody.
You do not legally have to have a divorce modification lawyer in Huntsville to modify your decree, but hiring an experienced divorce attorney can help make sure your case is filed correctly and presented in a way that comports with the law and the judge’s expectations. The court clerks can be very helpful, but they cannot give you legal advice. They will advise you to seek out a family law attorney for you legal questions. Give our divorce modification lawyers in Huntsville and Madison County a call today so that we can discuss the best way to achieve a divorce modification for you.
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