Can I Change the Grounds for Divorce After Everything Is Finalized?
After a divorce has been finalized, spouses have a few options to appeal or amend the judgment. If you want to have a successful amend or appeal, you have to have the proper legal grounds and go through an outlined legal process. The original reason for the divorce is called the grounds. In the first divorce filing, the original reason should be outlined. The spouse who served the divorce papers might decide to amend the original divorce grounds before the finalization. This is a fairly typical occurrence and can be done without hassle. However, after the divorce has become finalized, it’s far more difficult to alter the judgment or grounds for divorce.
The Importance of Reasoning
If your divorce has been finalized, but you want to change your grounds, you should give serious thought to the reason for the change. Legally speaking, grounds for divorce only have two differences that matter. They can all be boiled down to “no-fault” or “fault.” In today’s modern world, most divorces are no-fault. No-fault divorce is much easier to file since there’s no need to prove a person was at fault. In many states, you can still file a divorce based in fault. However, every state gives the option for no-fault divorces. Certain states even have divorce laws that only cover no-fault cases.
If your original divorce filing was based on fault, and you settled the case, the divorce ruling was probably favorable for you. With a fault-based divorce, the initiating spouse tends to be rewarded, while the spouse at fault is punished. You probably wouldn’t be well served by changing your grounds from “fault” to a “no fault.”
On the flip side, if you’re the spouse at fault, you might want to appeal the ruling or change the grounds so your divorce terms will be better. To file this type of appeal, you need to be ready to provide proof that you weren’t at fault. This becomes extremely difficult after the finalization of a divorce, because you have already been ruled “at fault.” There would need to be significant new evidence or a groundbreaking argument to change the judgment.
Divorce Amendment Reasons
Even if you don’t want to amend the grounds of your divorce, there are other aspects of the agreement that you might want to amend after the finalization. These scenarios have specific legal connotations. It’s hard to amend a divorce agreement. Your prepared argument must be strong. Unfairness and unhappiness are not considered good reasons to amend a judgment.
One situation that might occur regards a misunderstanding or assets, or a failure to disclose assets. Assets are divided between the divorcing parties during the divorce. If not all assets were counted, the process might be ruled unfair. Some examples would be discovering your spouse had a secret bank account or real estate property they’d never told you about. You could present a petition to the court asking for your spouse’s assets to be part of the division process.
The second most common reason is that either you or your spouse’s circumstances have significantly changed. This change in circumstances must be relevant to the terms of the divorce. If you found out your spouse was part of illegal behaviors, you might petition the court to change your visitation or custody agreement. If one of the people’s financial situations changes drastically, it might affect any continuing terms of the divorce.
If you intend to cause a significant change to your divorce judgment, you might file an appeal about the whole decision. All court decisions made through a trial can go through an appeals process with a higher court. However, it’s rare for the court of appeals to reverse a judgment for divorce. When appealing, the best arguments are about whether legal procedures were followed during the trial.
If your attorney believes the divorce proceeding was biased against you because the laws and court procedures were not followed properly, you have strong grounds for an appeal. Appeals have one significant advantage: they’re heard in a different court, and the new judge might have a different opinion on your divorce circumstances.
It’s very difficult to change the grounds of your divorce or change the terms of a divorce judgment. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It’s important to get in contact with your attorney to see if you have a potential case.