Once a divorce decree is issued by a Maryland judge, most aspects of it cannot be modified. However, when the decree also includes provisions related to child custody and support, these provisions might need to be modified as the children grow and the family changes.
Reasons to seek a divorce modification
As the needs of each family member change, the way the divorce decree addresses them might need to change as well. Parents might seek modifications to the child custody or support orders. They might also seek modifications if one parent moves out of the county or state where the original decree was issued.
Burden of proof
For the court to approve any divorce decree modification, the petitioning parent must provide evidence that the modification is truly needed. For example, a parent who loses their job might petition to change the amount of child support paid, or parents might petition to change their custody arrangement to better meet their and their children’s needs. All evidence related to child custody and support must also reflect that the change is being petitioned in the best interest of the children.
Procedure for requesting a divorce decree modification
There is an established process to request a modification. This includes:
• Filing a motion to modify the order
• Serving the order to all involved parties and having them respond
• Receiving temporary orders if they have requested as part of the motion
• Attending the final hearing to present argument and evidence
• Waiting until a modified order is issued by the court
Parents are sometimes tempted to make changes to their divorce decree without formalizing them in court. However, to make the changes enforceable, even if both agreed to them, the order modification must be presented to a judge for its approval.