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Is It Possible to Reopen a Divorce Case?

It's not unusual for divorcees to be unhappy with the outcome of their divorce cases. Some people may feel they were shortchanged by the court. Others may feel they gave more than they should. In either case, the temptation to petition the court to reopen and litigate the case again may be strong. Once the court has approved a divorce settlement, though, will it allow someone to reopen a case, and should you try?

Going Back to Court

In general, a divorce settlement is considered to be a done deal once the court has put its stamp of approval on the petition. The only thing you're typically allowed to return to court to contest is support obligations such as child support and alimony. Any requests to reconsider the division of marital assets will typically be denied.

However, there are certain times when the court will entertain a motion to reopen a divorce case:

One spouse committed fraud or was deceitful in some way with regards to the facts of the case (e.g. lied about the value of assets)
One spouse was placed under duress or undue influence to commit to the settlement agreement (e.g. one spouse threatens the other with bodily harm)
The settlement agreement is drastically unfair to one or both parties in some way
One spouse was mistaken about material facts that affected the outcome of the settlement

If you can provide solid evidence or make a case for any one of the previous issues, then the court may grant you request to reopen your divorce case and make adjustments to the settlement agreement.

Should You Go to Court?

However, even if you can prove your case, you must determine if going back to court is worth the time, money, and effort. Although you may have an emotional need to punish your ex-spouse for being deceitful or abusive, you must look at the situation practically. It may not be prudent to reopen the case if the cost of doing so vastly outweighs the benefits.

On the other hand, if the transgression is particularly egregious or you stand to obtain a significant financial benefit, then it's a good idea to connect with a Bountiful Divorce Attorney to discuss your options for reopening your divorce case. A family lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.


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