Your Legal Guide Through Life’s Twists And Turns

Are Divorce-Related Orders Set In Stone?

When a married couple in Tennessee decides to file for divorce, there are a number of issues that must be considered, addressed and decided upon. For example, how should a couple’s assets and debts be divided? What about child custody and support decisions? Is one spouse planning to file for alimony? By the time a divorce is finalized, a divorcing couple has either come to an agreement about these issues one their own outside of court or has turned to the courts to consider and make decisions related to these issues.

Many people assume that once a divorce is finalized, everything is set is stone and the decisions made related to child custody, child support and spousal support can never be changed. This isn’t however, necessary true.

In the months and years following a divorce, your life will change. Your children will grow older, you may decide to move to a new city or state for a better job or could suffer disabling injuries in a car accident and no longer be able to work. Life events like these may warrant changes to existing divorce-related orders.

What Divorce-Related Orders Can Be Modified?

  1. Child Custody & Visitation / Parenting Plans – Any decisions related to child custody and visitation, or parenting plans as they are referred to in Tennessee, are made after considering a child’s best interests. In cases where one parent’s or a child’s circumstances change, a parent may choose to petition to modify the terms of an existing parenting plan. Examples of what may constitute a “substantial change in circumstances” include parental relocation, changes in a parent’s or child’s health and allegations of abuse or neglect.
  2. Child Support – Regardless of the marital status of a child’s parents, he or she is entitled to receive financial support from both parents. Child support amounts are determined using a set of calculations that take factors such as a parent’s income, number of minor-aged children and costs related to a child’s health insurance into consideration. In cases where a paying parent loses a job or a supported child becomes disabled, modifications to an existing child support order may be granted.
  3. Alimony / Spousal Support – There are four main types of alimony that may be awarded in Tennessee; in future, rehabilitative, transitional and in solido. Only alimony orders related to in solido awards cannot be modified. Changes to an existing alimony or support order may be sought in cases where there is a substantial change that affects the “obligor’s ability to pay or the obligee’s need for support.”

What Are The Next Steps?

If you believe that your circumstances warrant that changes be made to an existing parenting plan, child support order or alimony amount; it’s important to contact an attorney who handles family law and divorce matters. An attorney will review the facts of your case and advocate on your behalf for why a change is necessary.


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