It is not unusual for one spouse to ask for modification of a divorce decree. Divorce decrees reflect the status of the parties at the time the decree is entered and, as time passes, many life changes can make elements of the decree no longer appropriate. When one or both spouses are service members, certain challenges and considerations affecting decrees can result.
Changes That Trigger Modification Requests
Types of changes common to all marriages that typically trigger a request to modify a decree include:
- New employment
- Desire to relocate
- Changes in the children’s needs
- Modifications to custody arrangements
Changes Unique to Service Members
Service members may have additional reasons for seeking a modification to a divorce decree. Typical changes affecting a service member that may trigger a request include:
- Deployment or redeployment
- A new duty station
How Requests for Modification Affect Service Members
Obtaining a modification, or responding to a former spouse’s request for a change, can be truly challenging to service members. Deployment outside of the United States, a lack of flexibility in schedules, inability to obtain leave, and difficulty making travel arrangements can all present service members with unique challenges. Your attorney can help you deal with these issues.
Obtaining a Modification
Your attorney can also help you determine whether your reasons for requesting a change are likely to be acceptable, and assist you in presenting the request to the court. In general, modifications must be requested from the same jurisdiction where the original decree was entered. Your military divorce attorney will get a copy of your original divorce decree from the court, prepare a motion asking for the modification, file the motion with the proper court, and represent you at the hearing. Normally the court will give the parties at least 30 days’ notice of when the hearing will be held.