A lot of times after a divorce agreement is finalized spouses may have misgivings. Not necessarily about being divorced, but about the divorce agreement itself. Hindsight is 20/20, and they might feel they got a raw deal and could have walked away with a lot more. So if you’re unhappy with your divorce agreement, can you undo it?
Generally the answer is “No.” In most states, courts won’t revisit judgments lightly.
Still, there are a few situations where a court may decide to give a divorce judgment a second look.
For example, courts do not look kindly upon one spouse plotting to hide assets. So let’s say you got what you feel is a lousy alimony award or property division. Then it comes to light that in addition to his regular job your ex-husband was making money on the side in some sort of business venture he never told you or your lawyer about, and he squirreled it away somewhere that he figured nobody would ever get to. As long as this isn’t the type of thing that you should have been able to discover during the divorce proceeding, it could be grounds for the judge to re-open the agreement and award you more.
Courts also don’t like it when one party lies. So if your ex made any fraudulent misrepresentations during the divorce proceeding in order to convince you to agree to the terms of the settlement and you don’t find this out until later, that could be another situation where the courts might “undo” the divorce and revisit its terms.
Finally, a divorce agreement is a contract. And like any contract, it can potentially be undone if the terms are “unconscionable.” That means they need to be so completely unfair and there has to have been such a huge imbalance of bargaining power between the spouses that it “shocks the conscience” of the court. This is very rare, but in those few instances a divorce judge may decide not to enforce its terms.
If you think you fall into one of these categories you should definitely talk to a good family lawyer. These situations are rare, but they do still arise on occasion. And if you’re in such a situation, you want to act as quickly as possible to preserve whatever rights you might have.