Can Settlement Agreements be Modified in Massachusetts?

When spouses end their relationship through divorce, they reach a settlement on several marital issues. Before the divorce is official, all decisions are finalized by a judge. This is even true for mediation, as the court reviews the couple’s decisions and either approves or denies them. For all court cases, what a judge decides is law. This means that once the decisions are made, they must be followed and can be enforced by court order. However, courts also recognize that a family’s circumstances are subject to change. Because of this, modifications can be made to these decisions after judgment in order to accommodate significant changes in life.

Child Support Modifications

When children are involved in a divorce case, support may be determined by the court. There are some circumstances in which one parent may request a modification of the payment amount. This modification can either be an increase or a decrease in the amount a parent owes in child support. Situations in which a modification may be needed can include:

  • A change in custody arrangements
  • Loss of employment
  • An increase or decrease in income
  • If a child requires money for medical treatments

Spousal Support

Similarly to child support, one spouse may owe the other support payments. The amount of the payments is often determined by the court in order to avoid difficulty. These payments can also be modified in the event that there is a major change in one or both spouse’s circumstances. These circumstances can be a change in the spouse’s ability to pay the support or a spouse’s need to receive the support. Modifications can be made to these payments in the event of:

  • Loss of employment
  • A change in income
  • An illness
  • A spouse’s ability to become financially independent from the other spouse

Custody and Visitation Schedules

A child’s custody arrangement and a parent’s visitation schedule are also subject to modification as well. Like the aforementioned marital issues, one or both parents are required to prove a significant and ongoing change in their life in order to receive a modification to the arrangement. Like the original judgment, a court will listen to arguments for and against the modification and come to a decision that is best for the child. Reasons for modification in these situations may include:

  • If one parent relocates
  • Any medical problems with the child or a parent
  • A change in a parent’s employment
  • Parent alienation
  • A negative change in the child’s school performance

Contact our Firm

If you or someone you know is looking to modify a family arrangement, contact the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley, P.C. today.

If you require compassionate and knowledgeable legal guidance for a matter of divorce, family or estate law, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Cynthia L. Hanley today. Our firm proudly serves clients in Mansfield, Massachusetts and throughout Bristol County.