Can I Modify or Appeal my Divorce Settlement?

Once you sign your divorce agreement, or after a family court has issued a judgment, it can be difficult to change the terms of your divorce. There are circumstances, however, when pursuing a modification or appeal is justified. You have the legal right to file an appeal or a motion to modify to have a component of the agreement changed.

If you wish to appeal a court’s decision, you must enter a motion of appeal within 30 days of the original judgement. If you wish to pursue a modification of your divorce agreement, you can initiate that process at any time after the agreement was signed.

You may be able to change your divorce settlement in these circumstances:

Post-divorce life changes

The areas of a divorce settlement that are altered most frequently are those involving child support, parenting, and spousal support. These orders can be altered in the event of certain life changes.

If you are ordered to pay child support and, for instance, you lose your high-paying job or have more children with your new partner, you can file a motion to modify the child support order.

Parenting plans can be modified for several reasons – if one parent wishes to relocate to another area, for example. If one parent becomes unfit to be responsible for children, due to arrest, mental health, addiction, or another reason, modifications to the parenting plan are also warranted.

You can also ask the court to make a change in the amount of spousal support you receive from your ex if he or she starts earning a higher level of income. Keep in mind, when you file your motion, you will also need to provide documentation to back up your request. However, it should be noted that Washington law requires that the financial change should be a significant one in order to qualify for a modification to spousal maintenance.

Errors made by the court/legal professionals

Despite its best efforts, courts have been known to make mistakes and this can lead to an unfair judgment. In these circumstances, you may file an appeal. When you appeal a divorce decree, you ask a higher court to review your original case to decide if mistakes were made in the original trial.

An appeal must show that the court’s decision was based on a mistake in applying the law. Maybe the court failed to take into account a loss your business has suffered or miscalculated the worth of assets. Or perhaps inadmissible testimony was allowed or pertinent evidence was excluded in your case. A divorce attorney in Seattle could argue on appeal that legal errors were made or certain facts or financial evidence was overlooked. In rare cases, the appeals court may also consider new evidence if the proper criteria are met.


Again, it should be noted that if you and your ex both agreed to the settlement approved by the court, or after a divorce decree is made at trial, it can be extremely hard to change it. If you have questions relating to modifying or appealing your divorce settlement, definitely discuss them with your attorney before you take action.

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