After you agree to revise divorce papers, you may be surprised by what you read in the revised papers. There might be language that you didn’t expect that holds you to something you never agreed to. You may have made the agreement based on information that you later found out was incorrect. You might wonder what your options are for disputing the revised settlement.
Divorce law is contract law
A divorce settlement is a contract. It’s an agreement between you and your ex spouse. Revised settlement papers are also treated like a contract. That means that New York treats a revised settlement much like they treat any other kind of contract under New York law.
There are times that the courts may allow you to dispute a revised settlement on one or more grounds. They might allow you to dispute the revision on the basis of fraud. You might also be able to dispute the charges on the basis of mutual mistake.
Fraud is a wrongful action or statement for personal gain. Fraud occurs in a divorce judgment when one party is dishonest with the other in order to convince the other to agree to a revision in the divorce settlement agreement. For example, one party might try to convince the other party that they’ve lost their job and they’re no longer able to make maintenance payments. The other ex-spouse may not have a reason to doubt the claim, and they might agree to the modification.
If the ex-spouse later sees the other spouse continuing to go to work or make large purchases, they might start to question the other spouse’s honesty. They might work with their attorney in order to gather evidence of the other spouse’s activities or spending. You may be able to dispute revised settlement agreement papers on the basis of fraud. The court might agree that it’s not fair to hold you to the revisions when the other side wasn’t honest with you about the circumstances.
Another grounds to dispute the revised settlement papers is on the basis of mutual mistake. If you both believe that something is true and it later turns out to be false, that might be a grounds to dispute the revised settlement papers. A mistake either has to be a mistake of both parties or a mistake of one party based on the misrepresentation of another person.
For example, the revised divorce settlement might say that the approximate value of a financial account is $10,000. The revised papers might say that the ex-spouse must pay you $5,000 and that they may keep the rest of the account. You might later find out that you based the value of the account on old statements or you found out about a deposit that you weren’t aware of.
The true value of the account might actually be $25,000. If that’s the case, the court might agree with you that it isn’t fair for your ex-spouse to get a windfall of $15,000 more than the $5,000 that you’re both supposed to get under the revised agreement. This is an example where the court may allow you to dispute the settlement based on mutual mistake.
You can ask for another revision
If the circumstances change, you can always ask the court to do another revision of your divorce judgment. Life doesn’t happen on a predictable time frame. You may need to revise a divorce judgment very quickly after the last revision. You can speak with an experienced New York divorce judgment revision attorney in order to see if this is an option for you.
What if it just isn’t fair?
If the only issue with the revised divorce settlement is that you feel it’s no longer fair, it’s hard to ask the court to make a revision. The courts want people to have faith in the finality of court agreements. Unfortunately, simply disliking an agreement is not a grounds to ask the court to change it.