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Can I Modify a Divorce Decree?

| Chris Schmiedeke |

Key Takeaways:

  • A divorce decree can be modified to a certain degree after it is finalized regarding factors like custody arrangements and spousal support payments.
  • A divorce decree can be modified by either a mutual agreement between you and your ex or a change of circumstances.
  • Any party with court-ordered rights regarding children involved in the divorce is eligible to file for divorce decree modification.
  • The more complicated and contested a modification is, the longer it tends to take to get a final order on the modification.

Divorce decrees are reached through either negotiation or litigation. They are court-ordered and legal. Unfortunately, they may not be in your favor. However, this does not mean that a divorce decree cannot be changed. Years later, you may be in a completely different place in life than you were when the order was drafted. Does this mean you should have to live with an outdated decree? Of course not, and that is why it is possible to seek a divorce decree modification.

If you are seeking guidance in changing your divorce decree due to a change in circumstances, help is available. The legal team at the Law Offices of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C. is ready to listen and help you get the post-divorce modification you deserve.

What Stipulations Are in a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree in Texas is the final court-ordered ruling that formally ends your marriage. It contains detailed outlines of who gets what in terms of property division, custody rights, child support, and potentially alimony and other contentious areas.

How Can I Modify My Divorce Decree?

You can modify your divorce decree in Texas through mutual agreements or a change of circumstances. Texas courts understand that life changes, so the process should be straightforward with the right legal team by your side. Take a look at the two processes in detail.

Amend Your Divorce Decree with Mutual Agreement

Changing a divorce agreement when both parties comply is common when former spouses are still on amicable terms or when they are able to reconcile to some degree and rebuild communications. These situations allow for compromise, and if the parties can agree on changes to the divorce agreement, they can petition the court to alter the original order. This is seen as a legally acceptable approach for changing the terms and conditions of the original order.

Amending Your Divorce Decree via a Change of Circumstances

If one party undergoes a material or other substantial change in their life situation, they may be able to seek a modification of the original divorce decree. The party must have a significant change in these cases. For example, one party may experience a material change, such as becoming unemployed or getting a better job. The custodial parent may fall on hard times, rendering them unable to make decisions in the best interest of the child. Remarriage may also change the need for spousal support.

Why Clients Partner With The Law Offices of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C.

When you partner with the Law Offices of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C., you can benefit from a communicative attorney-client relationship that strives to make the divorce modification process as easy and stress-free as possible. Take a look at what some of our previous clients have had to say about their experiences.


Anthony M.: “Chris and his staff are true professionals. From the first contact, they made sure my case was handled with the utmost respect and care and resolved in a timely manner. I highly recommend this law firm. It is very professional and organized and kept me updated throughout the entire process of my case using text messages, email, and phone calls daily and weekly. If you need a Law Firm that is going to put you first, this is the Law Firm. It doesn’t get any better than this!”

Patrick S.: “The team was amazing. They all were very helpful, patient, and understanding of my situation. Even the front desk was so helpful and informative when I had questions. They got everything done as smoothly and quickly as could be. I would definitely use them if needed in the future. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Liz J.: “I had questions. Chris had all of the answers. He is very easy to talk to, and I am glad I picked him for initial consultation. I definitely recommend him, especially if you are confused about the process. It is bold to say, but I don’t think you will regret it.”

What Parts of a Divorce Decree Can Be Modified?

After a divorce, only certain parts of the divorce decree can be modified. This can only come about due to one of the two reasons listed above: The change must be substantial, or both parties must mutually agree upon the change.

Child Custody and Visitation Modification

married couple signing divorce paperwork with their daughter

Post-divorce modifications may consist of changes to a custody order involving minor children. These changes can include issues of parenting time, the visitation schedule, or other child custody modifications. Child custody and visitation can be complex issues tied to conservatorship. It is always best to have a divorce lawyer’s help when seeking an alteration to the divorce decree.

If your former spouse is the custodial parent but suffers a change in circumstances that renders them mentally unstable, begins abusing drugs or alcohol, or is otherwise unable to act in the best interest of the child, the courts may revisit the original agreement or decree. Child conservatorship and visitation are always determined based on what is in the best interests of the child, and evidence will be required to prove circumstances have changed significantly.

Spousal Support and Alimony Modification

A significant material change, such as unemployment or remarriage, may give reason to revisit alimony, otherwise known as spousal support or spousal maintenance payments. Significant financial changes, for better or worse, can be considered.

Remember, spousal support is intended to allow the spouse receiving support to maintain their standard of living. It should not, however, put an undue burden on the spouse paying the support. If it does because your situation has changed, a family law attorney can help you seek a decree modification to change the amount you must pay.

Child Support Modification

Child support guidelines allow modification of a child support order, such as child support payments. Similar to spousal support, child support modification requires a significant material change, such as unemployment or improved employment.

Other aspects of your divorce case, such as property division, cannot be modified regardless of any material or significant changes. If you and your ex-spouse agree on the exchange of property, other avenues besides a divorce modification may be available. Your family law attorney may be able to help you in these areas.

Who Can File for a Modification of a Divorce Decree?

Under the Texas Family Code, any person who has court-ordered rights in terms of the children in question from the original final divorce decree can bring up a case for the modification of custody. Evidence will be required to prove the change of circumstance, and that will fall to the person who filed for the modification.

If you are seeking modification of your divorce settlement, it is advisable to have a dedicated, experienced, and knowledgeable family law attorney in your corner. The modification process can be complex, and the right divorce attorney can guide you through it while protecting your rights. Our Dallas law firm is ready to help you with the modification of your divorce settlement agreement. Call us at 214-643-8904 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation today.

Can You File a Temporary Order for Child Custody?

Yes! You can file a temporary or emergency order for custody under Texas Family Code Chapter 156.006. Temporary orders are issued while a suit for modification is pending. However, the court may not change who has exclusive rights to determine the child’s primary residence unless the temporary order is in the best interests of the child. This requires several factors to be in play:

  • The child’s present circumstances threaten their physical or mental well-being.
  • The person with conservatorship has voluntarily relinquished their primary care for over six months.
  • The child is older than 12 and has expressed a wish in chambers to change custodial parents.

In the latter case, the alteration in custody must still be in the child’s best interests as determined by the courts.

Emergency custody orders require an affidavit stating this best interest and facts supporting the allegation that such an emergency order is necessary. In addition, if a conservator has temporarily relinquished primary care due to military deployment, mobilization, or other temporary military duty, an emergency order is not usually issued (barring other extreme circumstances).

Child Custody in Texas is Complex. We Have Answers.

What is the Residency Restriction in Texas?: Explore what the residency restriction is, and discover how it could affect your child custody case.

How to File for Spousal Support in Texas: Spousal support or alimony can be integral if you have primary custody of your child. Find out how you can file for this support obligation.

Do Grandparents Have Legal Rights to Visitation in Texas?: Grandparents’ rights differ quite a bit from parental rights, but visitation can be arranged under certain circumstances.

Why Having a Divorce Attorney Is Ideal for Issues Like This

Child smiling in front of her parents

Texas divorce cases of any type can get contentious and complicated very quickly. What, at first, seems like an easy agreement can quickly hit a sticking point that devolves into arguments that tear families apart. The right divorce attorney can help smooth over the process of a divorce modification while still protecting your rights.

  • We can prove that you have the material to back up the need for a new agreement.
  • Divorce modifications are about protecting you and your children.
  • Our team will move quickly to gather the necessary evidence for your case.
  • We help you avoid mistakes like missing critical deadlines or committing contempt.
  • A family law attorney is your best shot at gaining the modification to your final divorce decree with efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions About Amending Divorce Decrees in the Lone Star State

Once a Divorce is Final, Can It Be Reopened?

Yes, a divorce in Texas can be modified after the final decree is issued. However, it is important to note that only certain aspects of it can be changed. Property and debt distribution, for example, cannot be modified. Anything relevant to children, however, can be changed until the child turns 18 years of age.

How Soon After Divorce Can I Modify the Decree?

In most cases, you will have to wait at least one year from the issuance of the final decree to file for any modifications. While there are some exceptions, especially when children are in danger, it typically does not happen until after a year. Still, you should speak with a divorce lawyer for legal advice to determine what the appropriate time frame is for your case.

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Divorce Settlements in Texas?

Yes. The statute of limitations on divorce settlements in Texas is relevant to getting the stipulations of the final decree enforced, and you have a two-year limit from the date of the final decree to do so. For example, you have two years to file for enforcement if your ex-spouse has not given you the spousal support they were supposed to.

How Long Does It Take for a Judge to Sign a Modified Divorce Decree?

How long it takes for a judge to sign a modified divorce decree typically depends on how complicated and contested the case is, but it will generally range from several months to several years, depending on what is being modified.

Watch and Learn as Chris Schmiedeke Explains Texas Divorce

The Law Offices of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C., is happy to offer video guides on YouTube for free that you can use to learn more about how divorce proceedings and other family law issues work in Texas, including:

Is Your Divorce Settlement Not Really Settled? Let’s Modify it Together

The law firm of Chris Schmiedeke, P.C. is all about divorce simplified. We care very deeply for our attorney-client relationships and are here to make the process as simple as possible while helping you with issues involving children and support.

We will provide simple, straightforward answers whenever possible, and we have a track record of success. We will not surprise you with hidden disclaimers or fine print. We want nothing more than to be a compassionate ear and a dedicated ally when you need one most. We also offer eBooks and eCourses, educational videos, and other resources to help you understand the process and move forward with confidence.

If you need help with a post-divorce decree modification, we are here to help. Call the Law Offices of Chris Schmiedeke at 214-643-8904 or fill out our simple online contact form today for a free consultation with a member of our family law team.

Chris Schmiedeke


I was born in Dallas and spent the majority of my life here. I moved to Denver in the middle of the first grade and moved back to Plano in the middle of the eleventh grade. I graduated from Plano Senior High in 1984 and then attended Richland College and the University of North Texas where a received a Bachelor of Business Administration. From there I attended the Texas Tech University School of Law and was licensed to practice law in May of 1993. 

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