12 Jul Modifying Your South Carolina Divorce Decree
Many South Carolinians may mistakenly believe that there is no way to change their divorce decree once finalized by the family court. The term final in the name may give the wrong idea. Some aspects of a final decree are able to be changed, while others are not. If you are unhappy when you receive the decision from a family court judge, you may be able to change it. This guide can help.
Time Limits and Restrictions
In South Carolina, a judgment is not final until the time limit has passed for a Motion to Alter a Judgment, a Motion to Amend a Judgment, a Motion for Relief from Judgment, or an appeal. Rules 59 and 60 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure govern the time limits and requirements for bringing such motions. A final order will not be considered final if a Rule 59/60 motion or an appeal is brought—but the effects of the ruling will remain enforceable by the other party until and unless the order is subsequently modified.
The time limits for filing these motions are very short. In general, an appeal or any one of the motions detailed above should be filed within 10 days of the entry of the final order. Failure to file within the appropriate time period can lead to waiving your right to modify the final orders.
What can be modified?
Some aspects of a final order are always open to being modified while others are not. The decision and grounds for granting a divorce are final and cannot be modified except by an appeal. The same goes for the distribution of marital property in a divorce. If you are unhappy with the way your marital property was distributed, you have a very narrow 10-day window to do something about it or risk losing the chance to change the distribution in the future.
Alimony in South Carolina is more open to change than distribution of the marital assets. Unless otherwise noted in the final judgment, the decision to not award alimony is non-modifiable. However, an award of alimony may be altered based upon changed circumstances occurring in the future or even terminable after the final order has been entered. There is no time limit to challenge the terms of the alimony, and you may petition to modify the order for alimony whenever your circumstances change.
All aspects involving a final order involving children can be modified after the entering of the final order. This includes arrangements for child custody, parenting time and child support. Similar to changing the terms of alimony, a change to the final order involving children can only be accomplished if there has been a substantial change of circumstances.
Whether or not you will be able to modify the final order entered in your family court case will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your life. If you are unhappy with the decree you received, in most cases you will have to act quickly or deal with the consequences. If you are seeking to change your final decree in South Carolina, you should contact the family law attorneys at Klok Law Firm LLC. We have years of experience helping individuals who are going through the rough process of divorce and child custody disputes to get the best results.