Divorce Modification Attorneys in Shelby County
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Shelby County Divorce Modifications by Agreement
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Divorce Modification Lawyers in Shelby County
Depending on what type of divorce modification in Shelby County that you need, different standards can apply. Our divorce modification lawyer in Shelby County can explain the factors the judge will likely consider in deciding to make the change or not, but there are some general things to keep in mind that apply in most counties across Alabama. The fees to file a modification of your divorce by agreement are much cheaper and inexpensive than filing for a divorce modification in Shelby County, Alabama without an agreement. Filing a modification with an agreement is sometimes called an uncontested Petition to Modify and filing one with no agreement is called a contested Petition to Modify.
Generally speaking, if the parties are in agreement to the changes then it can be a matter of filing some paperwork and we charge a flat fee to do this. To do a modification by agreement, our Shelby County divorce modification lawyers charge a flat fee plus filing fee. This filing fee is what the local court charges to file the Petition to Modify and generally cannot be waived.
If you are not in agreement, then for a court to re-assess the terms of your divorce decree there must be some kind of material change in circumstances. Then, if you are the petitioner, you have to convince a judge that your change in circumstances warrants changing the terms of your divorce. One particular part of your prior agreement that cannot generally be altered is the division of property that was ordered in your divorce decree. However, our divorce modification lawyers in Shelby County may petition the court to have the decree enforced if your former spouse is not keeping up their end of the order or agreement.
For our Alabama divorce attorneys to file a Petition to Modify without an agreement, our divorce modification lawyers in Shelby County need something called a retainer. The divorce modification attorney then bills from this retainer as they perform work and if it is exhausted then you will have to refill this retainer for the attorney to continue. Our up front retainers for Petitions to Modify are much more than an uncontested modification and can depend on many factors such as what you are trying to change, what circumstances have changed, where the original case was filed, and other such factors that determine the amount of time the attorney will predict spending on the case to get the matter started. After you have spoken with the divorce modification attorney in Shelby County, Alabama, then they can quote you a retainer amount for your particular situation.
Divorce Modifications in Shelby County
To modify the terms of your divorce, you will need to file a Petition to Modify the decree. Even if you and your former spouse agree on the proposed changes to your divorce decree, you must file a petition with the court. Post-judgment private arrangements between you and your former spouse will have no legally binding effect on the decree that was signed by the judge. If you filed an uncontested divorce, you both signed a Settlement Agreement. If you and your former spouse agree on the new modifications, it can often be a fairly simple process to modify the terms of the original settlement agreement in your prior divorce. If the parties do not agree on the modification terms, the dispute will have to be set for hearing. Our divorce modification lawyers in Shelby County, Alabama can help you get this done by getting you a court date as quickly as possible.
A Settlement Agreement is considered a binding contract. Since it is a contract both parties agreed to at the time, a judge is not usually inclined to let you out of that prior agreement (especially if the other party protests) without some compelling reasons to do so. The more time that elapses from the date of the original agreement, the more likely it is that modifications will be allowed. Our divorce modification lawyers file modification petitions in Shelby County all the time and can advise you on the process and likelihood of your proposed changes being ordered by the judge in your case.
Child custody and alimony are two common requests for modification. To alter your custody terms, you should have our divorce modification lawyers in Shelby County file a Petition to Modify Custody in the county where the original custody case was decided. Alabama courts use a “best interest of the child” standard when making the initial custody determination. 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.
The court can look at any of the following in decided custody: the child’s health, the child’s needs, the nature and relationship of the parties to the people around them, the respective home environments offered by the parties, the age of the parties, the mental and financial stability of the parties, the interpersonal relationships between the child and his/her parents, whether one parent has interfered with the child’s relationship with the other parent, and the wishes of the child. This is not an exhaustive list; the court may consider any evidence it deems relevant.
If you want to modify the terms of your alimony (i.e. spousal support), you would need to have our divorce modification attorney in Shelby County file a Petition to Modify, generally with the county that issued the original order. The court must find that there has been a “material change in the circumstances of one or both parties.” A material change can include a change in income in one or both of the parties, remarriage of one of the parties, or employment changes of one or both parties. The longer it has been since your alimony was first set, the better your chances are, generally speaking, of success in seeking modifications to alimony.
For example, a husband and wife were married a significant number of years. The husband was making $65,000 and the wife was a homemaker at the time of divorce. It has been 4 years since the divorce and now the husband makes $150,000 per year. The wife found a job after the divorce making $35,000 per year. The court would look at the material change in the husband’s circumstances, how long they were married, and any other factor deemed relevant, to decide whether it was appropriate to increase the husband’s alimony payment to his ex-wife.
If you or your spouse lived in Westover, Vincent, Harpersville, Helena, Columbiana, Chelsea, Calera, Alabaster, Montevallo, Pelham, or anywhere else In Shelby County, then your divorce was probably filed in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama. In Shelby County, all divorce modifications are handled in the Domestic Relations division of the Circuit Court. The Circuit Clerk’s office can assist you in answering some questions, like where to file your petitions, but the clerks are not divorce modification attorneys and therefore cannot give you legal advice. Call our divorce modification lawyers in Shelby County today for more information.
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