Modification of Divorce Decree Law and Legal Definition

Modification of divorce decrees generally refers to a change in the order that was issued declaring the couple officially divorced. The divorce decree will often contain orders related to child custody and visitation, as well as division of assets, support payments, and other issues. Proceedings to modify a divorce decree are commenced by filing a petition to modify in the original divorce action decree. Local court rules and state rules of civil procedure, which vary, govern petitions to modify.

Typically, to modify child custody or visitation, the parent seeking a modification must show a "significant change of circumstances" that would support such a modification. It is possible, depending on state law, for child support to be modified at any time under the mandatory statewide child support guidelines. The court's continuing power to modify spousal support usually depends on the terms of the court's order. Unless jurisdiction to award support has been reserved, postjudgment spousal support is often limited by the stated duration of the order.