Divorce proceedings are generally difficult for everyone involved. A lot of the stress that comes with a divorce often comes from a feeling of powerlessness in the face of a judge’s legally binding judgment. If a judgment seems to be unfair, you may be left wishing you had a way to change the outcome of the proceedings.
Fortunately for individuals who are in such circumstances, there are legal ways to appeal a judge’s decision and to potentially change the final ruling. While the process of judgment modification can also be difficult, it can sometimes be worth the time and effort. The question then becomes, when can someone get a judgment modified?
Reasons for judgment modification
Perhaps the most common reason people want to modify an existing judgment is because of alimony. Also known as spousal support, alimony comes in the form of payments made by one ex-spouse (the supporting spouse) to another (the dependent spouse).
Alimony judgments and the related issues, namely the number of payment and the amount of money for each payment, are normally determined by a judge based on several factors, including,
· The needs of the spouse and the child/children
· The quality of life during the marriage
· The property and position of the both spouses
· The ability of either spouse to support themselves and any children
However, people’s lives change and those changes can affect their ability to make alimony payments. If their circumstances change enough, they may have ground to have legal grounds to have an alimony judgment modified. Some examples of changed circumstances include,
· Changes to the dependent spouse’s income/employment status
· An increase in the child’s/children’s needs
· And increase in the cost of living
· A disability that prevents the supporting spouse from working
Lepis v. Lepis
In 1980, a family law case (Lepis v. Lepis) resulted in a court ruling stating that courts not only have the ability to require alimony, but also the ability to alter alimony judgments depending on the developing circumstances. This case is often brought up as a “Lepis motion” during family law cases wherein the reasonableness of an alimony judgment is discussed.
In any of these types of situations, the potential for a serious impact of the lives of everyone involved is real and should be treated seriously. Oftentimes, having solid legal representation can make all of the difference. If you find yourself in a situation where you think an alimony judgment should be modified, it is highly recommended that you obtain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable legal professional.