Most people can’t wait until their divorce is finally over — but the judge’s signature on a petition for a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is permanently settled between you and your ex-spouse. Some issues that are addressed in a divorce can be revisited again and again through appeals, modification requests or both.
Take child custody issues, for example: The agreement you and your ex-spouse have crafted regarding decision-making roles, parenting time and residency can be upended if one of you wants to move and take your child along. Custody issues could also be revived once a stepparent gets involved, a child’s emotional and physical needs change, or there are questions about one person’s parenting skills. In all of those cases, one parent may ask the court to modify an existing part of their divorce agreement by showing the court that there is good cause to do so.
Appeals are also possible in a divorce. Appeals are unusual (and unlikely to succeed) when a settlement is part of a negotiated agreement between the two sides. On the other hand, when a divorce goes all the way to litigation, it isn’t unusual for the losing party to try to overcome the trial judge’s decision through an appeal.
In both modifications and appeals, however, it’s wise to remember that you cannot violate the existing order until you are granted a new one from the court. If you’re convinced that your child custody agreement needs to be modified or another part of your divorce should be reviewed and changed, it may be wise to discuss all of your options with an experienced attorney.