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Can You Renegotiate a Divorce Settlement?

Going through a divorce can be one of the most challenging experiences you may ever face. Even when you and your spouse agree to end your marriage, you will need to come to an agreement regarding the equal distribution of your property. Wisconsin is a community property state, so when a married couple divorces in Wisconsin, they must distribute their marital property in a 50/50 manner. Many people wonder whether they can renegotiate a divorce settlement once it is made.

A Divorce Settlement is a Court Order

Couples work together during the divorce process to come to an agreement about the distribution of assets and property. The judge reviews these settlement terms and enters them into the final divorce order. If couples are having a difficult time agreeing to the settlement, the judge may require them to seek mediation. A mediator is a professional who assists couples through divorce settlement disputes. It is essential to adequately negotiate your original settlement because it can be quite difficult to renegotiate once it has been put into a court order.

Can I Reopen a Divorce Case?

There are a limited number of circumstances in which someone may renegotiate a divorce settlement. If the original settlement is unfair and you can prove it, you may be able to have a judge review it. There are several reasons why the court may reopen a divorce settlement.

  • Deceit or Fraud – When the spouse knowingly withheld information or was otherwise deceitful, the court may allow the reopening of the settlement to review the situation.
  • Duress or Coercion – If a spouse used threats and forced the other spouse to sign a settlement agreement against their will, the court may reopen the case.
  • Mistaken Negotiations – This can occur when a spouse was mistaken about a material fact of the settlement.
  • Unfairness – In some instances, the court may review the settlement if it is extremely unfair or if there is a fundamental inequity in the settlement.

Under these limited circumstances, you may be able to reopen the case. That does not mean you will automatically receive a different settlement. You must be prepared to prove how the settlement was not fair and why you deserve a different outcome.

Was My Settlement Unfair?

During a divorce, both parties must come to an agreement regarding the settlement terms. The courts are hesitant to order a settlement unless it has been first approved by both parties. In cases where there are strong disagreements, the court may order mediation to try to resolve the matter. There are very few cases in which the settlement is unfair. However, your case may be one of the rare exceptions. If you feel that your settlement was unfair, the first step is to seek guidance from a knowledgeable divorce attorney. Your lawyer will review your settlement and evaluate the information you provide that makes it unfair.

Divorce settlements are compromises, and they do not always seem fair. If your settlement meets the legal requirements, the court may reopen it. A skilled divorce attorney will guide you through the process and assist you in obtaining a fair settlement. Call us today at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. at (704) 370-2828 or send us an email online.

Published June 19, 2023
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