Can a Divorce Settlement be Reopened: Yes, If 4 Terms Fulfilled

Divorce can be messy and drawn out, but it can be even more complicated if one or both parties try to reopen the settled divorce agreement. So, can a divorce settlement be reopened? Yes, a divorce settlement can be reopened. But for that, 4 terms need to be fulfilled.

In this post, I will discuss these four terms and explain why they are so important. You must read this post if you are considering reopening a divorce settlement!

can a divorce settlement be reopened

Can a Divorce Settlement be Reopened: Yes, If 4 Terms Fulfilled

Most of the time, a divorce settlement is considered final once both sides have signed it. However, there are some circumstances in which a settlement can be reopened.

A precedent set during a UK case of Barder vs Barder (1987) means that a court may allow a financial settlement to be reopened if something later happens that alters the principle on which the original consent order was made.

For a settlement to be reopened, any one of the following four terms must be met:

#1. If there was any dishonesty or fraud involving in disclosing assets:

If it can be shown that either party wasn’t honest or didn’t tell the truth about their assets during the divorce, this could be a reason to go back and change the settlement. This is because both parties must have a complete and accurate picture of each other’s assets before reaching a fair settlement.

For example, if one party hid money in accounts outside the country or didn’t tell the other party about all of their assets, this could be considered fraud. If this can be proved, the settlement can be reopened and revised.

If you suspect your ex-partner was dishonest about their assets during the divorce process, accumulate all the evidence first. And then file for reopening the divorce settlement.

#2. The material change in circumstances:

If something important has changed since the settlement was made, this can be a reason to reopen the agreement. These changes include job loss, serious illness, or a change in custody arrangements.

For example, if one party agreed to pay child support but then lost their job, they may not be able to make these payments. In this case, the other parent could petition the court to reopen the settlement so the child support payments can be revised.

Changes in one party’s income, getting remarried, or moving to a new city are also important changes in circumstances. Suppose you have experienced a material change in circumstances since your divorce settlement was reached. In that case, it will be better to reopen the agreement rather than modify it on your own. 

This is because if you try to modify the agreement yourself and your ex-partner disagrees, they can take you back to court and ask a judge to enforce the original terms of the settlement, and you might have to face the charge of contempt of court.

#3. If there was any proven duress and undue influence:

If either party can prove that they were under duress or undue influence when they signed the settlement agreement, this can provide grounds for reopening the settlement.

Duress can be defined as a threat of harm used to force someone into doing something against their will. Undue influence, on the other hand, occurs when one person takes advantage of another person’s weakened mental state to get them to agree to something.

For example, if one party threatened to hurt the other party or their children unless they agreed to sign the settlement agreement, this would be considered duress. Similarly, if one party took advantage of the other party’s mental health issues to get them to agree to an unfair settlement, this would be considered undue influence. Lying to get child custody also goes here.

If you believe that you were under duress or undue influence when you signed your divorce settlement, then you may proceed to reopen the settlement.

#4. If there was procedural wrong in the first instance:

A procedural error during the divorce process can justify reopening the settlement. A procedural error is defined as any mistake made during the legal process.

For example, if the divorce papers were not given to one party in the way the law says they should have been, this would be a procedural error. If this can be proved, the settlement can be reopened, and the divorce process can be restarted from the beginning.

Other kinds of procedural mistakes include:

  • Not following court orders.
  • Not telling the other person about all of their assets during the divorce process.
  • Not showing up for scheduled hearings.

You can file a motion to reopen the settlement if you believe there was a procedural error during your divorce.

Reopening a divorce settlement can be a complex and time-consuming process. If you are considering reopening your settlement, you must speak to an attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.

Reopen divorce statute of limitations:

Each state has its own statute of limitations on divorce settlement for reopening. This means there is a time limit for how long you can file after the divorce to reopen the settlement.

For example, in California, the statute of limitations for reopening a divorce settlement is three years from the date the settlement was entered.

This means that if you want to reopen your settlement, you must do so within three years of the date the settlement was reached. If you try to reopen your settlement after the statute of limitations has expired, the court will likely dismiss your case.

Can a divorce be reopened? I hope the below discussion will guide you properly:

FAQs on Can a Divorce Settlement be Reopened

Can you reopen a divorce case?

Most people think a divorce is a permanent legal decision once it is finalized. However, there are some circumstances where a divorce case can be reopened. For example, if there is new evidence or if one of the parties couldn’t fully explain what they wanted during the first case, the court may reconsider the divorce decision.

Also, if one person has a big change in their life, like losing their job or getting remarried, they can ask the court to change the divorce terms. Although it is rare for a divorce case to be reopened, it is possible under certain circumstances.

Is there a time limit on a divorce settlement?

There is no specific time limit on a divorce settlement. The divorce process can be a long and complicated one, especially if there are disagreements over custody, property, or other matters.

Sometimes, reaching a final settlement can take months or even years. Each case is unique, and the amount of time it takes to resolve will depend on the specific circumstances involved.

In general, the divorce process will move more quickly if both parties can agree on the settlement terms. This is also known as an uncontested divorce. If there are significant disagreements, it may take longer to reach a final agreement. Ultimately, though, the length of the divorce process is up to the parties involved.

Can you renegotiate a divorce settlement?

Once a divorce is finalized, it can be difficult to make changes to the terms of the settlement. However, it is not impossible to renegotiate a divorce settlement if both parties are willing to compromise.

If one spouse believes they were not fairly represented in the original settlement, they may be able to petition the court to reopen the case. In some cases, new information may come to light that justifies a revised settlement.

For example, if one spouse remarries and their new partner has a high income, the original settlement may need to be revised to reflect this change in circumstances.

Ultimately, whether or not a divorce settlement can be renegotiated will depend on the specific facts of each case.

Can you reopen a divorce case in Florida?

If you want to reopen a divorce case in Florida, you must file a motion with the court. The motion must explain why you want to reopen the case and what new evidence you have.

The court will then decide whether to grant your request. In most cases, you will only be able to reopen your case if there has been a significant change in circumstances since the original divorce decree was issued.

For example, if your ex-spouse has remarried or if there has been a change in custody arrangements, you may be able to reopen your case.

If you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-spouse, you may need to go to trial to have the judge make a ruling on your motion to reopen.

What if I can’t pay my divorce settlement?

If you find yourself in this situation, taking action quickly is important. The first step is to contact your attorney and explain your financial situation. They may be able to negotiate a reduced payment plan with your ex-spouse or their attorney.

If this isn’t possible, you may need to consider selling some of your assets or taking out a loan. Whatever you do, it’s important to avoid falling behind on payments, as this can result in serious legal consequences. With careful planning and a bit of effort, you should be able to find a way to meet your obligations and move on with your life.

Otherwise, you may be held in contempt of court and face serious penalties. You can file a petition to modify the divorce settlement if nothing is possible. But it is not easy. You have to hire an experienced lawyer and prove with strong evidence that you cannot pay the settlement due to a change in circumstances.

The court will review and decide if they can modify the settlement amount. It is important to remember that avoidance is key, so try your best to keep up with payments and communicate with all parties involved.

How to challenge an unfair divorce settlement?

If you believe the settlement agreement is unfair, you can try negotiating with your ex-spouse and their attorney to come to a more equitable arrangement. If this is unsuccessful, you can file a motion in court to have the settlement modified.

To successfully challenge the settlement, you must provide evidence and arguments showing why the agreement is unjust. This could include demonstrating that your ex-spouse hid assets or that the division of property does not accurately reflect contributions to the marriage. It is important to work with a skilled attorney during this process.

Ultimately, it is up to the court to determine whether or not the settlement is fair. If you have questions about challenging your divorce settlement, speak with your attorney.


Reopening a divorce settlement can be complex and time-consuming. Still, it may be worth pursuing if there have been significant changes in your circumstances since the original settlement was reached.

If you believe that you were under duress or undue influence when you signed the agreement or if there was a procedural error during the divorce proceedings, you may have grounds to reopen the settlement.

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