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Challenges to Divorce Agreements in Pennsylvania

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Navigating the aftermath of a divorce can be as complex as the process itself, especially when circumstances change, necessitating a revision of the original agreement. Our firm often encounters individuals dissatisfied with their do-it-yourself divorce agreements or those containing significant errors. In Pennsylvania, while the law allows for modifications to divorce agreements, there are specific and limited reasons under which revisions may be made.

Shot of an unhappy senior couple sitting separately on a couch after having an argument at home

Reasons to Dispute a Marital Agreement:

In the Keystone State, disputing a marital agreement post-divorce is not taken lightly. To modify an existing agreement, there must be a substantial change in circumstances since the original order was entered. Contrary to common belief, dissatisfaction with the terms of the agreement is not enough reason to dispute it.

Common Issues with Marital Agreements: Often, we meet clients who claim they did not fully understand the implications of their agreements, felt pressured into signing them, or were unaware of their rights during the process. These situations can lead to feelings of resentment and dissatisfaction later on. It is also not uncommon for those who draft their own agreements to find significant errors or omissions, which may lead to complications down the line.

Role of an Attorney: This is where the expertise of a seasoned attorney proves invaluable. An attorney can ensure that you are fully informed about your rights and obligations under the law, help you avoid common pitfalls, and work to protect your interests. They can review any agreement for potential issues, rectify errors, and propose modifications if needed. By seeking legal counsel, you can navigate post-divorce modifications with confidence and avoid complex issues that might arise in the future.

Here are common grounds for modification of a divorce settlement agreement:

  • Fraud or Undisclosed Assets: Discovering that your ex-spouse hid assets during the divorce proceedings.
  • Significant Change in Circumstances: This may include a substantial change in income, remarriage, or a change in the needs of children.
  • Error or Inaccuracy in the Original Agreement: For instance, if property division was based on incorrect values or information.

Undisclosed Assets Case: The Million Dollar Shoe Collection

In a rather unique case from 2012, a guy decided to take legal action against his ex-wife over her extravagant shoe collection. This collection, boasting over 1,200 designer pairs, was estimated to be worth a staggering $1 million. The couple had finalized their divorce three years before this incident, with an agreed settlement in place. However, the husband claimed that, according to their settlement, he was entitled to 35% of the value of his ex-wife’s shoe collection. His argument was rooted in his belief that he was unaware of the size and worth of this collection and that it had not been properly disclosed during their divorce proceedings.

While the peculiarity of an ex-husband suing his ex-wife over her shoe collection seems like an obscure example, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise over a range of items that were not inventoried in divorce. The lesson drawn from this case is the importance of the discovery process in divorce proceedings. This process involves a careful examination where each party asks for detailed financial information from the other, often with the help of their own lawyers. A thorough set of questions and document requests is prepared to ensure that all assets are fully disclosed.

When To Consider Modifying Your Divorce Agreement:

A divorce agreement may not be set in stone. Consider seeking a modification if:

  • You or your ex-spouse’s financial situation has changed dramatically.
  • Your children’s living arrangements or needs have evolved significantly since the original agreement.

Who Qualifies to Modify a Divorce Agreement: Not everyone can modify a divorce agreement in Pennsylvania. You must demonstrate:

  • A substantial and ongoing change in circumstances.
  • That the modification would serve the best interests of any children involved.

woman takes off an engagement ring, family conflict,  close-up

Legal Limitations According to PA Law:

Under Pennsylvania law, certain restrictions apply when seeking to modify a divorce settlement agreement. It is important to note that these modifications do not happen automatically. Changes to property division and the division of marital assets once decided and finalized in the initial divorce decree, generally cannot be modified at a later date.

Additionally, any modification request should be done in a timely manner. Delaying may impede the chances of a successful modification. Always consult with a legal expert to understand your rights and obligations under Pennsylvania law when considering modifications to your divorce agreement.

FAQs

  • How Do I Change My Divorce Agreement in PA? Start by consulting with a family law attorney such as the divorce lawyer in Philadelphia with Petrelli Previtera to review your reasons for modification.
  • What Is a Pennsylvania Post-Decree Modification Order? It is a legal order issued by a court to change the terms of your divorce agreement after it has been finalized.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a request for modification of your divorce settlement agreement or if you believe your divorce settlement contained errors and needs a second look, we suggest scheduling a consultation with an attorney. Modifications to a divorce agreement can have lasting implications. Contact our legal team to see discuss your case and how the law may impact the modification of your divorce settlement agreement.

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