When a divorce decree is entered, the judge does her best to ensure that the decree will be lasting. Nevertheless, in reality things rarely stay the same and often the changed circumstances of either of the parties to the divorce will require a modification of the divorce decree. Careful preparation and collection of the relevant documentation will make your request for a divorce decree modification go as smoothly as possible.
Read your divorce decree. In some instances, a divorce decree may require that you and your former spouse attend mediation or some other alternate dispute resolution session before petitioning the court for a modification. A careful reading of your divorce decree will tell you what, if any, steps you must take before asking the court for a modification.
Ask your former spouse to agree to a modification. If your former spouse agrees to change some orders contained in the divorce decree, both parties can submit requests to the court to modify the divorce decree. The advantage to this arrangement is that usually there is no need for a hearing or trial to modify the divorce decree.
File a post-decree petition. To modify a divorce decree you must ask the court that granted your divorce to re-open your case, reevaluate the situation and modify the order. You may hire an attorney to file the post decree petition, or in some instances you can do it yourself. Contact the clerk of the court that issued your divorce decree and inquire whether they have self-help forms available to assist you in filing a post-decree petition on your own.
Prove changed circumstances. The court will not modify your divorce decree unless you can show that you or your former spouse's circumstances have changed since the divorce decree was entered. A change in circumstance could be your former spouse's income, your income, your job location, the age of your children or the marital status of any of the parties. You will need to gather proof of the changed circumstances to show the court when you request a modification.