Can A Divorce Settlement Be Reopened?

Divorces require compromise from both sides to settle. It’s nearly impossible for divorcing spouses to receive everything they want in a divorce settlement, which creates further conflict for everyone involved in the case. As a result, many people end up feeling like they were robbed of a fair settlement. Unfortunately, you can’t simply head back to court and ask a judge to change the compensation to your liking. 

However, if you feel like you received an unjust settlement, you may be eligible to ask the court to revisit your case and have a second look at the deal. Ultimately, the court will decide if the settlement you and your spouse reached is unfair. Keep in mind it’s tough to convince a judge to revisit your case, and a judge will come to a decision based on your state’s divorce laws. Continue reading to find out how you can reopen an unjust divorce settlement.

Proving Exceptional and Compelling Circumstances

To reopen a divorce settlement, you must prove to the court that the settlement must be revisited due to exceptional and compelling circumstances. These extraordinary and compelling circumstances aren’t defined, and it can be tricky to prove your case falls under this category. Usually, exceptional and compelling circumstances are limited to proving the settlement was obtained through fraud, or if one party made material misrepresentations. 

For example, if one spouse hid assets or lied about their value, then the court may reopen the settlement. Unfortunately, if your settlement woes don’t pertain to assets, then a court most likely won’t revisit your case. Courts take these cases seriously because, in individual states, parties are required to disclose all assets and debts in a divorce. Failure to provide this information is a violation of a divorce settlement. 

Merely suspecting fraud has been committed isn’t enough reason for a court to revisit your settlement. You’ll need hard evidence to prove your former spouse has committed fraud.

Proving Duress and Undue Influence

Another way you may be able to convince a judge to revisit your settlement is by showing you were coerced into accepting the agreement through threats of violence. All spouses undergoing a stressful divorce are under duress because they want to get their case settled. However, if one spouse used psychological pressure or threats of violence to force the other spouse into accepting a one-sided settlement, these actions fall under extreme duress and undue influence. If your spouse also threatened your children, these threats are also considered duress and can potentially nullify the settlement. Under these extreme circumstances, it’s valid to argue your consent wasn’t given because you didn’t freely and voluntarily agree to the settlement.

Time Restrictions on Reopening a Divorce Settlement

Even if you have grounds for reopening a settlement, there are restrictions on how long you can wait to bring this information to a judge’s attention. Issues related to fraud must be brought to court within one year of discovery of the fraud, and issues regarding duress must be brought to court within two years. 

There’s a long road ahead of you if you’re interested in reopening your divorce settlement. You’ll need to work with an experienced divorce attorney who has your best interests in mind. Contact The Ault Firm today. 

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