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Understanding Post-Decree Modifications

The Law Offices of John R. Bailey Feb. 18, 2022

People discussing contract alterationPeople’s life circumstances are constantly changing. You may be promoted, laid off, have a new baby, or adopt a child. Couples marry, divorce, and remarry. One thing that’s certain about life is that it will always change.

What do new changes mean when it comes to your divorce or child support arrangements? If you lose your job or remarry, how does that affect your existing arrangements? Thankfully, it is usually possible to modify your current arrangements.

With the help of a family law attorney, you can confidently seek a post-modification decree to change an existing court order. For over 30 years, Attorney John Bailey has practiced law and successfully secured outcomes for his clients. He is dedicated to helping his clients make informed decisions throughout the legal process. The Law Offices of John R. Bailey serves clients in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and the neighboring areas of Belleville, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Portage.

What Is a Post-Decree Modification?

A post-decree modification allows a court-ordered arrangement to be legally changed. For example, the amount of money paid monthly to an ex-spouse in a spousal support arrangement could be increased or decreased. This change would be legally enforceable through a post-decree modification.

In Michigan and other states, there are several types of post-decree modifications. These include modifications for:

  • Child custody

  • Child support

  • Spousal support

  • Contempt

  • Other circumstances

Child Custody and Child Support

It is possible to change an existing child custody or child support order. When your life situation changes, this may be an important step that you need to take. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through this legal process.

Change in Circumstances

If there has been a significant change in circumstances, then it may be possible to secure a post-decree modification. For example, if one parent moves out of the state, then the current custody arrangement may no longer be satisfactory.

Or, if one parent is promoted at work and should now contribute more equally to the child’s expenses, then it may be possible to secure a post-decree modification.

Best Interests of the Child

Sometimes, one parent’s situation changes so much that it would be in the best interests of the child to modify the current custody arrangement. For example, the family living arrangements after a remarriage may make it in the child’s best interests to reside primarily with the other parent. The court will always take the best interests of the child into account.

Spousal Support

Changing a spousal support order is also a possibility under Michigan law. However, it can be somewhat difficult. With the help of a knowledgeable family law attorney, you can simplify the process.

Similar to requesting a post-decree modification for child support or child custody, to secure a modification for a spousal support arrangement in Michigan, you must be able to prove that there was a significant change in circumstances. Again, remarriage or the loss of a job would both likely qualify as significant changes in circumstances.


If your former spouse is not fulfilling the court-ordered decree, (for example, they are not sending payments as directed by the decree) then you may request that the judge find them in contempt of court. This could result in your former spouse possibly being fined or even spending time in jail.

Modification Process

The process of securing a modification will depend on the type of modification you are seeking. In general, you will need to file a motion to modify the original decree. It will most likely need to be notarized, filed at the court clerk’s office, and signed by a judge.

It’s also likely that you will need to provide proof of income, including pay stubs, statements of earnings, tax returns, W-2s, and other documents.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

When your life circumstances change, what worked before may no longer meet your needs. In these situations, you can seek to modify a court-ordered arrangement so that it better fits your life. Attorney John Bailey has 30 years of experience practicing law and is passionate about providing guidance and support. The Law Offices of John R. Bailey serves clients in Ypsilanti, Michigan, as well as Belleville, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Portage. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.