A dissolution of marriage decree is entered by the court to dissolve a marriage, and the decree becomes the baseline for the post-marriage arrangement. The decree often contains provisions concerning property division and spousal maintenance, child custody and parenting time, and child support obligations. However, as time goes on after the decree, circumstances change, and parties may find themselves desiring a modification of their current decree or order based on a change of circumstances. Because decrees and orders have such a significant effect on the financial and personal obligations of the parties, it is important to periodically review your circumstances so you don’t find yourself under a decree or order that is no longer justified under the current circumstances.
Pursuant to A.R.S. §25-411 and Rule 91 of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, there are a number of factors that a party will need to carefully examine to determine their ability to bring an action to seek a modification of a previous court order, including the mandate to participate in mediation to attempt to resolve the matter prior to bringing an action before the court, the timing of the most recent order(s), and the factual circumstances underlying the request for a modification.
As a practical matter, courts are generally somewhat reluctant to modify orders. So, when one party believes a modification is warranted under the circumstances, the first step is typically to confer with the other party to see whether the parties themselves can mutually agree on the change. Courts are much more willing to accept modifications that are reached in agreement by the parties. However, if the parties are unable to come to agreement, a petition for modification can be filed and the court will consider whether a modification is supported by the current circumstances.
At Giordano & Heckele, PLLC, our experienced family law attorneys can assist you in post-decree modifications. CALL TODAY for a consultation: (520) 433-9031. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org